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POINTS OF FRICTION 



POINTS OF FRICTION 



BY 



AGNES REPPLIER, Litt.D. 

AUTHOR OF "books AND MEN," "ESSAYS IN 
IDLENESS," "counter-currents," ETC., ETC. 





BOSTON AND NEW YORK 

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY 

^be Ritoer^De prerf^ Cambriti0t 

1920 



COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY AGNES REPPLIER 
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 



Fs- 



Note 

Six of the ten essays in this volume — 
"Living in History," "Dead Authors," 
"Consolations of the Conservative," "The 
Cheerful Clan," "Woman Enthroned," 
and "Money" — are reprinted through the 
courtesy of The Atlantic Monthly; "The Be- 
loved Sinner" and "The Strayed Prohibi- 
tionist" through the courtesy of The Cen- 
tury Magazine; "Cruelty and Humour" 
through the courtesy of The Yale Review; 
"The Virtuous Victorian" through the 
courtesy of The Nation. 



Contents 



Living in History I 

Dead Authors 3i 

Consolations of the Conservative 70 

The Cheerful Clan 105 

The Beloved Sinner 126 

The Virtuous Victorian 149 

Woman Enthroned 167 

The Strayed Prohibitionist 204 

Money 227 

Cruelty and Humour 254 



POINTS OF FRICTION 



Living in History 

WHEN Mr. Bagehot spoke his lu- 
minous words about "a fatigued 
way of looking at great subjects," he 
gave us the key to a mental attitude 
which perhaps is not the modem thing 
it seems. There were, no doubt, Greeks 
and Romans in plenty to whom the 
"glory" and the "grandeur" of Greece 
and Rome were less exhilarating than 
they were to Edgar Poe, — Greeks and 
Romans who were spiritually palsied 
by the great emotions which presum- 
ably accompany great events. They 
may have been philosophers, or humani- 
tarians, or academists. They may have 
been conscientious objectors, or con- 
scienceless shirkers, or perhaps plain 
I 



Points of Friction 

men and women with a natural gift of 
indecision, a natural taste for compro- 
mise and awaiting developments. In the 
absence of newspapers and pamphlets, 
these peaceful pagans were compelled to 
express their sense of fatigue to their 
neighbours at the games or in the 
market-place ; and their neighbours — if 
well chosen — sighed with them over the 
intensity of life, the formidable happen- 
ings of history. 

Since August, 19 14, the turmoil and 
anguish incidental to the world's great- 
est war have accentuated every human 
type, — heroic, base, keen, and evasive. 
The strain of five years' fighting was 
borne with astounding fortitude, and 
Allied statesmen and publicists saw to 
it that the clear outline of events should 
not be blurred by ignorance or misrepre- 
sentation. If history in the making be a 
fluid thing, it swiftly crystallizes. Men, 
"living between two eternities, and 
warring against oblivion," make their 
2 



Living in History 

indelible record on its pages ; and other 
men receive these pages as their best 
inheritance, their avenue to understand- 
ing, their key to life.. 

Therefore it is unwise to gibe at his- 
tory because we do not chance to know 
it. It pleases us to gibe at anything we 
do not know, but the process is not en- 
lightening. In the second year of the 
war, the English "Nation" commented 
approvingly on the words of an English 
novelist who strove to make clear that 
the only things which count for any of 
us, individually or collectively, are the 
unrecorded minutiae of our lives. "His- 
tory," said this purveyor of fiction, "is 
concerned with the rather absurd and 
theatrical doings of a few people, which, 
after all, have never altered the fact 
that we do all of us live on from day to 
day, and only want to be let alone." 

"These words," observed the "Na- 
tion" heavily, "have a singular truth 
and force at the present time. The peo- 
3 



Points of Friction 

pie of Europe want to go on living, not 
to be destroyed. To live is to pursue the 
activities proper to one's nature, to be 
unhindered and unthwarted in their 
exercise. It is not too much to say that 
the life of Europe is something which 
has persisted in spite of the history of 
Europe. There is nothing happy or 
fruitful anywhere but witnesses to the 
triumph of life over history." 

Presuming that we are able to dis- 
entangle life from history, to sever the 
inseverable, is this a true statement, or 
merely the expression of mental and 
spiritual fatigue? Were the great his- 
toric episodes invariably fruitless, and 
had they no bearing upon the lives oi 
ordinary men and women? The battles 
of Marathon and Thermopylae, the 
signing of the Magna Charta, the Triple 
Alliance, the Declaration of Independ- 
ence, the birth of the National Assem- 
bly, the first Reform Bill, the recogni- 
tion in Turin of the United Kingdom of 
4 



Living in History 

Italy, — these things may have been 
theatrical, inasmuch as they were cer- 
tainly dramatic, but absurd is not a 
wise word to apply to them. Neither is 
it possible to believe that the life of 
Europe went on in spite of these historic 
incidents, triumphing over them as over 
so many obstacles to activity. 

When the "Nation" contrasts the 
beneficent companies of strolling play- 
ers who "represented and interpreted 
the world of life, the one thing which 
matters and remains," with the com- 
panies of soldiers who merely destroyed 
life at its roots, we cannot but feel that 
this editorial point of view has its lim- 
itations. The strolling players of Eliza- 
beth's day afforded many a merry hour; 
but Elizabeth's soldiers and sailors did 
their part in making possible this mirth. 
The strolling players who came to the 
old Southwark Theatre in Philadelphia 
interpreted "the world of life," as they 
understood it ; but the soldiers who froze 
5 



Points of Friction 

at Valley Forge offered a different inter- 
pretation, and one which had consider- 
ably more stamina. The magnifying of 
small things, the belittling of great ones, 
indicate a mental exhaustion which 
would be more pardonable if it were less 
complacent. There are always men and 
women who prefer the triumph of evil, 
which is a thing they can forget, to pro- 
longed resistance, which shatters their 
nerves. But the desire to escape an obli- 
gation, while very human, is not gener- 
ally thought to be humanity's noblest 
lesson. 

Many smart things have been written 
to discredit history. Mr. Arnold called 
it "the vast Mississippi of falsehood," 
which was easily said, and has been said 
in a number of ways since the days of 
Herodotus, who amply illustrated the 
splendours of unreality. Mr. Edward 
Fitzgerald was wont to sigh that only 
lying histories are readable, and this 
point of view has many secret adher- 
6 



Living in History 

ents. Mr. Henry Adams, who taught 
history for seven years at Harvard, and 
who built his intellectual dwelling-place 
upon its firm foundations, pronounced 
it to be "in essence incoherent and im- 
moral." Nevertheless, all that we know 
of man's unending efforts to adjust and 
readjust himself to the world about him 
we learn from history, and the tale is 
an enlightening one. "Events are won- 
derful things," said Lord Beaconsfield. 
Nothing, for example, can blot out, or 
obscure, the event of the French Revo- 
lution. We are free to discuss it until 
the end of time ; but we can never alter 
it, and never get away from its conse- 
quences. 

The lively contempt for history ex- 
pressed by readers who would escape 
its weight, and the neglect of history 
practised by educators who would es- 
cape its authority, stand responsible for 
much mental confusion. American boys 
and girls go to school six, eight, or ten 
7 



Points of Friction 

years, as the case may be, and emerge 
with a misunderstanding of their own 
country, and a comprehensive igno- 
rance of all others. They say, " I don't 
know any history," as casually and as 
unconcernedly as they might say, "I 
don't know any chemistry," or " I don't 
know metaphysics." A smiling young 
freshman in the most scholarly of wom- 
en's colleges told me that she had been 
conditioned because she knew nothing 
about the Reformation. 

"You mean, — " I began question- 
ingly. 

"I mean just what I say," she inter- 
rupted. " I did n't know what it was, or 
where it was, or who had anything to do 
with it." 

I said I did n't wonder she had come 
to grief. The Reformation was some- 
thing of an episode. And I asked myself 
wistfully how it happened she had ever 
managed to escape it. When I was a 
little schoolgirl, a pious Roman Catholic 



Living in History 

child with a distaste for polemics, it 
seemed to me I was never done studying 
about the Reformation. If I escaped 
briefly from Wycliffe and Cranmer and 
Knox, it was only to be met by Luther 
and Calvin and Huss. Everywhere the 
great struggle confronted me, every- 
where I was brought face to face with 
the inexorable logic of events. That 
more advanced and more intelligent 
students find pleasure in every phase of 
ecclesiastical strife is proved by Lx)rd 
B rough ton's pleasant story about a 
member of Parliament named Joliffe, 
who was sitting in his club, reading 
Hume's "History of England," a book 
which well deserves to be called dry. 
Charles Fox, glancing over his shoulder, 
observ^ed, " I see you have come to the 
imprisonment of the seven bishops"; 
whereupon Joliffe, like a man engrossed 
in a thrilling detective story, cried des- 
perately, "For God's sake. Fox, don't 
tell me what is coming!" 
9 



Points of Friction 

This was reading for human delight, 
for the interest and agitation which are 
inseparable from every human docu- 
ment. Mr. Henry James once told me 
that the only reading of which he never 
tired was history. "The least significant 
footnote of history," he said, "stirs me 
more than the most thrilling and pas- 
sionate fiction. Nothing that has ever 
happened to the world finds me indiffer- 
ent." I used to think that ignorance of 
history meant only a lack of cultivation 
and a loss of pleasure. Now I am sure 
that such ignorance impairs our judg- 
ment by impairing our understanding, 
by depriving us of standards, of the 
power to contrast, and the right to esti- 
mate. We can know nothing of any na- 
tion unless we know its history; and we 
can know nothing of the history of any 
nation unless we know something of the 
history of all nations. The book of the 
world is full of knowledge we need to 
acquire, of lessons we need to learn, of 

10 



Living in History 

wisdom we need to assimilate. Consider 
only this brief sentence of Polybius, 
quoted by Plutarch: "In Carthage no 
one is blamed, however he may have 
gained his wealth." A pleasant place, no 
doubt, for business enterprise; a place 
where young men were taught how to 
get on, and extravagance kept pace with 
shrewd finance. A self-satisfied, self- 
confident, money-getting, money-loving 
people, honouring success, and hugging 
their fancied security, while in far-off 
Rome Cato pronounced their doom. 

There are readers who can tolerate 
and even enjoy history, provided it is 
shorn of its high lights and hea\'y shad- 
ows, its heroic elements and strong im- 
pelling motives. They turn with relief 
to such calm commentators as Sir John 
Seeley, for years professor of modem 
history at Cambridge, who shrank as 
sensitively as an eighteenth-century 
divine from that fell word "enthusi- 
asm," and from all the agitation it 
II 



Points of Friction 

gathers in its wake. He was a firm up- 
holder of the British Empire, hating 
compromise and guiltless of pacifism; 
but, having a natural gift for aridity, 
he saw no reason why the world should 
not be content to know things without 
feeling them, should not keep its eyes 
turned to legal institutions, its mind 
fixed upon political economy and inter- 
national law. The force that lay back 
of Parliament annoyed him by the sim- 
ple primitive way in which it beat 
drums, fired guns, and died to uphold 
the institutions which he prized; also 
because by doing these things it evoked 
in others certain simple and primitive 
sensations which he strove always to 
keep at bay. "We are rather disposed 
to laugh," he said, "when poets and 
orators try to conjure us with the name 
of England." Had he lived a few years 
longer, he would have known that Eng- 
land's salvation lies in the fact that her 
name is, to her sons, a thing to con- 

12 



Living in History 

jure by. We may not wisely ignore the 
value of emotions, nor underestimate 
the power of the human impulses which 
charge the souls of men. 

The long years of neutrality engen- 
dered in the minds of Americans a nat- 
ural but ignoble weariness. The war was 
not our war, yet there was no escaping 
from it. By day and night it haunted us, 
a ghost that would not be laid. Over and 
over again we were told that it was not 
possible to place the burden of blame on 
any nation's shoulders. Once at least 
we were told that the causes and objects 
of the contest, the obscure fountains 
from which had burst this stupendous 
and desolating flood, were no concern 
of ours. But this proffered release from 
serious thinking brought us scant peace 
of mind. Every honest man and woman 
knew that we had no intellectual right 
to be ignorant when information lay at 
our hand, and no spiritual right to be 
unconcerned when great moral issues 
13 



Points of Friction 

were at stake. We could not in either 
case evade the duty we owed to reason. 
The Vatican Library would not hold the 
books that have been written about the 
war; but the famous five-foot shelf 
would be too roomy for .the evidence in 
the case, the documents which are the 
foundation of knowledge. They, at least, 
are neither too profuse for our patience, 
nor too complex for our understanding. 
"The inquiry into the truth or falsehood 
of a matter of history," said Huxley, 
"is just as much an affair of pure science 
as is the inquiry into the truth or false- 
hood of a matter of geology; and the 
value of the evidence in the two cases 
must be tested in the same way." 

The resentment of American pacifists, 
who, being more human than they 
thought themselves, were no better able 
than the rest of us to forget the state of 
Europe, found expression in petulant 
complaints. They kept reminding us at 
inopportune moments that war is not 
14 



Living in History 

the important and heroic thing it is as- 
sumed to be. They asked that, if it is to 
figure in history at all (which seems, on 
the whole, inevitable), the truth should 
be told, and its brutalities, as wtU as its 
heroisms, exposed. They professed a 
languid amusement at the "rainbow of 
official documents" which proved every 
nation in the right. They inveighed bit- 
terly against the "false patriotism" 
taught by American schoolbooks, with 
their absurd emphasis on the "embat- 
tled farmers" of the Revolution, and 
the volunteers of the Civil War. They 
assured us, in and out of season, that a 
doctor who came to his death looking 
after poor patients in an epidemic was 
as much of a hero as any soldier whose 
grave is yearly decorated with flowers. 
All this was the clearest possible expo- 
sition of the lassitude induced in faint- 
hearted men by the pressure of great 
events. It was the wail of people who 
wanted, as the "Nation" feelingly ex- 
15 



Points of Friction 

pressed it, to be let alone, and who could 
not shut themselves away from the 
world's great tragedy. None of us are 
prepared to say that a doctor and a 
nurse who perform their perilous duties 
in an epidemic are not as heroic as a 
doctor and a nurse who perform their 
perilous duties in war. There is glory 
enough to go around. Only he that lov- 
eth his life shall lose it. But to put a 
flower on a soldier's grave is a not too 
exuberant recognition of his service, for 
he, too, in his humble way made the 
great sacrifice. 

As for the brutalities of war, who can 
charge that history smooths them over? 
Certain horrors may be withheld from 
children, whose privilege it is to be 
spared the knowledge of uttermost de- 
pravity; but to the adult no such mercy 
is shown. Motley, for example, describes 
cruelties committed three hundred and 
fifty years ago in the Netherlands,which 
equal, if they do not surpass, the cruel- 
l6 



Living in History 

ties committed six years ago in Bel- 
gium. Men heard such tales more calmly 
then than now, and seldom sought the 
coward's refuge — incredulity. The 
Dutch, like other nations, did better 
things than fight. They painted glorious 
pictures, they bred great statesmen and 
good doctors. They traded with extraor- 
dinary success. They raised the most 
beautiful tulips in the world. But to do 
these things peacefully and efficiently, 
they had been compelled to struggle for 
their national existence. The East India 
trade and the freedom of the seas did 
not drop into their laps. And because 
their security, and the comeliness of 
life which they so highly prized, had 
been bought by stubborn resistance to 
tyranny, they added to material well- 
being the "luxury of self-respect." 

To overestimate the part played by 

war in a nation's development is as 

crude as to ignore its alternate menace 

and support. It is with the help of his- 

17 



Points of Friction 

tory that we balance our mental ac- 
counts. Voltaire was disposed to think 
that battles and treaties were matters 
of small moment; and Mr. John Rich- 
ard Green pleaded, not unreasonably, 
that more space should be given in our 
chronicles to the missionary, the poet, 
the painter, the merchant, and the 
philosopher. They are not, and they 
never have been, excluded from any 
narrative comprehensive enough to ad- 
mit them; but the scope of their author- 
ity is not always sufficiently defined. 
Man, as the representative of his age, 
and the events in which he plays his 
vigorous part, — these are the warp and 
woof of history. We can no more leave 
John Wesley or Ignatius Loyola out of 
the canvas than we can leave out Marl- 
borough or Pitt. We know now that the 
philosophy of Nietzsche is one with 
Bernhardi's militarism. 

As for the merchant,^ — Froissart was 
as well aware of his prestige as was Mr. 
i8 



Living in History 

Green. "Trade, my lord," said Dinde 
Desponde, the great Lombard banker, 
to the Duke of Burgundy, "finds its 
way ever3rvvhere, and rules the world." 
As for commercial honour, — a thing as 
fine as the honour of the aristocrat or of 
the soldier, — what can be better for 
England than to know that after the 
great fire of 1666 not a single London 
shopkeeper evaded his liabilities; and 
that this fact was long the boast of a city 
proud of its shopkeeping? As for juris- 
prudence, — Sully was infinitely more 
concerned with it than he was with com- 
bat or controversy. It is with stem satis- 
faction that he recounts the statutes 
passed in his day for the punishment of 
fraudulent bankrupts, whom we treat 
so leniently; for the annulment of their 
gifts and assignments, which we guard 
so zealously; and for the conviction of 
those to whom such property had been 
assigned. It was almost as dangerous to 
steal on a large scale as on a small one 
19 



Points of Friction 

under the levelling laws of Henry of 
Navarre. 

In this vast and varied chronicle, war 
plays its appointed part. "We cannot," 
says Walter Savage Landor, "push 
valiant men out of history." We cannot 
escape from the truths interpreted, and 
the conditions established by their val- 
our. What has been slightingly called 
the " drum-and-trumpet narrative" 
holds Its own with the records of art and 
science. "It cost Europe a thousand 
years of barbarism," said Macaulay, 
"to escape the fate of China." 

The endless endeavour of states to 
control their own destinies, the ebb and 
flow of the sea of combat, the "recur- 
rent liturgy of war," enabled the old 
historians to perceive with amazing dis- 
tinctness the traits of nations, etched as 
sharply then as now on the Imperishable 
pages of history. We read Froissart for 
human delight rather than for solid in- 
formation; yet Froissart's observations 

20 



Living in History 

— the observations of a keen-eyed stu- 
dent of the world — are worth recording 
five hundred >'ears after he set them 
down. 

"In England," he says, "strangers 
are well received"; yet are the English 
"affable to no other nation than their 
own." Ireland, he holds to have had 
"too many kings" ; and the Scotch, like 
the English, "are excellent men-at- 
arms, nor is there any check to their 
courage as long as their weapons en- 
dure." France is the pride of his heart, 
as it is the pride of the world's heart to- 
day. " In France also is found good chiv- 
alry, strong of spirit, and in great abun- 
dance; for the kingdom of France has 
never been brought so low as to lack 
men ready for the combat." Even Ger- 
many does not escape his regard. "The 
Germans are a people without pity and 
without honour." And again: "The 
Germans are a rude, unmannered race, 
but active and expert where their own 

21 



Points of Friction 

personal advantage is concerned." If 
history be "philosophy teaching by ex- 
ample," we are wise to admit the old 
historians into our counsels. 

To withhold from a child some knowl- 
edge — apportioned to his understand- 
ing — of the world's sorrows and wrongs 
is to cheat him of his kinship with hu- 
manity. We would not, if we could, 
bruise his soul as our souls are bruised ; 
but we would save him from a callous 
content which is alien to his immatu- 
rity. The little American, like the little 
Austrian and the little Serb, is a son of 
the sorrowing earth. His security — of 
which no man can forecast the future — 
is a legacy bequeathed him by predeces- 
sors who bought it with sweat and with 
blood; and with sweat and with blood 
his descendants may be called on to 
guard it. Alone among educators, Mr. 
G. Stanley Hall finds neutrality, a "high 
and ideal neutrality," to be an attribute 
of youth. He was so gratified by this 

22 



Living in History 

discovery during the years of the war, 
so sure that American boys and giris 
followed "impartially" the great strug- 
gle in Europe, and that this judicial atti- 
tude would, in the years to come, enable 
them to pronounce "the true verdict of 
history," that he "thrilled and tingled" 
with patriotic — if premature — pride. 
"The true verdict of history" will be 
pronounced according to the documen- 
tary evidence in the case. There is no 
need to vex our souls over the possible 
extinction of this evidence, for closer 
observers than our impartial young 
Americans are placing it permanently 
on record. But I doubt if the equanim- 
ity which escapes the ordeal of partisan- 
ship is to be found in the mind of youth, 
or in the heart of a child. Can we not re- 
member a time when the Wars of the 
Roses were not — to us — a matter for 
neutrality? Our little school histories, 
those vivacious, anecdotal histories, 
banished long ago by rigorous educators, 
23 



Points of Friction 

were in some measure responsible for 
our Lancastrian fervour. They fed it 
with stories of high courage and the sor- 
rows of princes. We wasted our sympa- 
thies on "a mere struggle for power"; 
but Hume's laconic verdict is not, and 
never can be, the measure of a child's 
solicitude. The lost cause fills him with 
pity, the cause which is saved by man's 
heroic sacrifice fires him to generous ap- 
plause. The round world and the tale of 
those who have lived upon it are his 
legitimate inheritance. 

Mr. Bagehot said, and said wisely 
after his wont, that if you catch an in- 
telligent, uneducated man of thirty, and 
tell him about the battle of Marathon, 
he will calculate the chances, and esti- 
mate the results ; but he will not really 
care. You cannot make the word "Mar- 
athon" sound in his ears as it sounded 
in the ears of Byron, to whom it had 
been sacred in boyhood. You cannot 
make the word "freedom" sound in un- 
24 



Living in History- 
tutored ears as it sounds in the ears 
of men who have counted the cost by 
which it has been preserved through the 
centuries. Unle§.s children are permitted 
to know the utmost peril which has 
threatened, and which threatens, the 
freedom of nations, how can they con- 
ceive of its value? And what is the worth 
of teaching which does not rate the gift 
of freedom above all earthly benefac- 
tions? How can justice live save by the 
will of freemen? Of what avail are civic 
virtues that are not the virtues of the 
free? Pericles bade the Athenians to 
bear reverently in mind the Greeks who 
had died for Greece. "Make these men 
your examples, and be well assured that 
happiness comes by freedom, and free- 
dom by stoutness of heart." Perhaps if 
American boys bear reverently in mind 
the men who died for America, it will 
help them too to be stout of heart, and 
"worthy patriots, dear to God." 

In the remote years of my childhood, 
25 



Points of Friction 

the study of current events, that most 
interesting and valuable form of tuition, 
which, nevertheless, is unintelligible 
without some knowledge of the past, 
was left out of our limited curriculum. 
We seldom read the newspapers (which 
I remember as of an appalling dulness), 
and we knew little of what was happen- 
ing in our day. But we did study his- 
tory, and we knew something of what 
had happened in other days than ours; 
we knew and deeply cared. Therefore 
we reacted with fair intelligence and no 
lack of fervour when circumstances were 
forced upon our vision. It was not pos- 
sible for a child who had lived in spirit 
with Saint Genevieve to be indifferent 
to the siege of Paris in 1870. It is not 
possible for a child who has lived in 
spirit with Jeanne d'Arc to be indiffer- 
ent to the destruction of Rheims Cathe- 
dral in 1 91 4. If we were often left in 
ignorance, we were never despoiled of 
childhood's generous ardour. Nobody 
26 



Living in History 

told us that "courage is a sublime form 
of hypocrisy." Nobody fed our young 
minds on stale paradoxes, or taught us 
to discount the foolish impulsiveness of 
adults. Our parents, as Mr. Henry James 
rejoicingly observes, "had no desire to 
see us inoculated with importunate vir- 
tues." The Honourable Bertrand Rus- 
sell had not then proposed that all 
teaching of history shall be submit- 
ted to an "international commission," 
"which shall produce neutral text- 
books, free from patriotic bias." There 
was something profoundly fearless in 
our approach to life, in the exposure of 
our unarmoured souls to the assaults of 
enthusiasms and regrets. 

The cynic who is impatient of primi- 
tive emotions, the sentimentalist whose 
sympathy is confined exclusively to his 
country's enemies, grow more shrill- 
voiced as the exhaustion of Europe be- 
comes increasingly apparent. They were 
always to be heard by those who paused 
27 



Points of Friction 

amid the thunderings of war to listen to 
them; but their words were lost in the 
whirlwind. It was possible for a writer 
in the "Survey" to allude brutally in 
the spring of 1916 to the "cockpit of 
Verdun." It was possible for Mr. Rus- 
sell to turn from the contemplation of 
Ypres, and say: "The war is trivial for 
all its vastness. No great human pur- 
pose is involved on either side, no great 
principle is at stake." If the spiritual 
fatigue of the looker-on had found an 
echo in the souls of those who were 
bearing the burden and heat of the day, 
the world would have sunk to destruc- 
tion. "The moral triumph of Belgium," 
said Cardinal Mercier, when his coun- 
try had been conquered and despoiled, 
"is an ever memorable fact for history 
and civilization." Who shall be the 
spokesman of the future? 

In the last melancholy pages of that 
able and melancholy book, "The Eco- 
nomic Consequences of the Peace," Mr. 
28 



Living in History 

Keynes describes the apathy of victori- 
ous England, too spent to savour vic- 
tory. "Our power of feeling or caring 
beyond the immediate questions of our 
own material well-being is temporarily 
eclipsed. We have been moved already 
beyond endurance, and need rest. Never, 
in the lifetime of men now living, has 
the universal element in the soul of man 
burnt so dimly." 

Never perhaps in the centuries, for 
when in the centuries has that element 
been so ruthlessly consumed? England 
is like a swimmer who has carried the 
lifeline to shore, battling amid the 
breakers, tossed high on their crests, 
hurled into their green depths, pounded, 
battered, blinded, until he lies, a broken 
thing, on the shore. The crew is safe, but 
until the breath comes back to his la- 
bouring lungs, he is past all acute con- 
sideration for its welfare. Were Mr. 
Keynes generous enough to extend his 
sympathy alike to foes and friends, he 
29 



Points of Friction 

might even now see light shining on the 
horizon. It would do him — it would do 
us all — good to meditate closely on the 
probable state of Europe had Germany 
triumphed. The "hidden currents" of 
which we are warned may be sweep- 
ing us on a reef ; but the most imminent 
and most appalling calamity has been 
averted. "Events are wonderful things," 
and we may yet come to believe with 
Froissart, lover of brave deeds and hon- 
ourable men, that "the most profitable 
thing in the world for the institution of 
human life is history." 



Dead Authors 

LES morts n'6crivent point," said 
Madame de Maintenon, who lived 
in a day of tranquil finalities. If men's 
passions and vanities were admittedly 
strong until the hour of dissolution, the 
finger of death obliterated all traces of 
them; and the supreme dignity of this 
obliteration sustained noble minds and 
solaced the souls that believed. An age 
which produced the Oraisons Funebres 
had an unquenchable reverence for the 
grave. 

Echoes of Madame de Main tenon's 
soothing conviction ring pleasantly 
through the interv^ening centuries. Book- 
making, which she knew only in its smil- 
ing infancy, had grown to ominous pro- 
portions when the Hon. Augustine Bir- 
rell, brooding over the fatality which 
had dipped the world in ink, comforted 
31 



Points of Friction 

himself — and us — with the vision of 
an authorless future. "There were no 
books in Eden," he said meditatively, 
"and there will be none in Heaven; but 
between times it is otherwise." 

For an Englishman more or less con- 
versant with ghosts, Mr. Birrell showed 
little foreknowledge of their dawning 
ambitions. If we may judge by the re- 
cent and determined intrusion of spirits 
into authorship. Heaven bids fair to be 
stacked with printing-presses. One of 
their number, indeed, the " Living Dead 
Man," whose amanuensis is Elsa Bar- 
ker, and whose publishers have unhesi- 
tatingly revealed (or, I might perhaps 
say, announced) his identity, gives high 
praise to a ghostly library, well cata- 
logued, and containing millions of books 
and records. Miss Lilian Whiting assures 
us that every piece of work done in life 
has its ethereal counterpart. "The 
artist creates in the astral before he cre- 
ates in the material, and the creation in 
32 



Dead Authors 

the astral is the permanent embodi- 
ment." Consequently, when an author 
dies, he finds awaiting him an "imper- 
ishable record" of all he has ever writ- 
ten. Miss Whiting does not tell us how 
she comes to know this. Neither does 
she say how good a book has to be to 
live forever in the astral, or if a very bad 
book is never suffered to die a natural and 
kindly death as in our natural and kindly 
world. Perhaps it is the ease with which 
astral immortality is achieved, or rather 
the impossibility of escaping it, which 
prompts ambitious and exclusive spirits 
to force an entrance into our congested 
literary life, and compete with mortal 
scribblers who ask their little day. 

The suddenness of the attack, and its 
unprecedented character, daunt and be- 
wilder us. It is true that the apparitions 
that lend vivacity to the ordinary spirit- 
ualistic seance have from time to time 
written short themes, or dropped into 
friendly verse. Readers of that engaging 
33 



Points of Friction 

volume, "Report of the Seybert Com- 
mission for Investigating Modern Spirit- 
ualism," published in 1887, will remem- 
ber that " Belle," who claimed to be the 
original proprietor of Yorick's skull 
(long a "property " of the Walnut Street 
Theatre, Philadelphia, but at that time 
in the library of Dr. Horace Howard 
Furness), voiced her pretensions, and 
told her story, in ten carefully rhymed 
stanzas. 

"My form was sold to doctors three, 
So you have all that's left of me; 
I come to greet you in white mull, 
You that prizes my lonely skull." 

But these effusions were desultory and 
amateurish. They were designed as per- 
sonal communications, and were be- 
trayed into publicity by their recipients. 
We cannot regard their authors — pains- 
taking but simple-hearted ghosts — as 
advance guards of the army of occupa- 
tion which is now storming the citadel 
of print. 

34 



Dead Authors 

It is passing strange that the dead who 
seek to communicate with the living 
should cling so closely to the alphabet 
as a connecting link. Dying is a primi- 
tive thing. Men died, and were wept and 
forgotten, for many, many ages before 
Cadmus sowed the dragon's teeth. But 
letters are artificial and complicated. 
They belong to fettered humanity 
which is perpetually devising ways and 
means. Shelley, whose impatient soul 
fretted against barriers, cried out de- 
spairingly that inspiration wanes when 
composition begins. We strive to follow 
Madame de S^vigne's counsel, "Laissez 
trotter la plume"; but we know well 
how the little instrument halts and 
stumbles ; and if a pen is too clumsy for 
the transmission of thought, what must 
be the effort to pick out letters on 
a ouija board, or^with a tilting table? 
The spirit that invented table-rapping 
(which combines every possible dis- 
advantage as a means of communication 
35 



Points of Friction 

with every absurdity that can offend a 
fastidious taste) deserves to be penal- 
ized by its fellow spirits. Even Sir Oliver 
Lodge admits that the substitution of 
tables for pen and ink "has difficulties 
of its own." 

Yet nothing can overcome the infatu- 
ation of ghostly visitors for this particu- 
lar piece of furniture. They cannot keep 
their spectral fingers off one, and they 
will come any distance, and take any 
pains, for the pleasure of such handling. 
Maeterlinck relates with enviable grav- 
ity the details of an evening call paid 
by a monk who had lain in the cloisters 
of the Abbaye de Saint Wandrille since 
1693, and who broke a sleep of two cen- 
turies that he might spin a table on one 
leg for the diversion of the poet's guests. 
Their host, while profoundly indifferent 
to the entertainment, accepted it with a 
tolerant shrug. If it amused both mor- 
tals and the monk, why cavil at its in- 
fantile simplicity? 

36 



Dead Authors 

The frolicsome moods of the Lodge 
table must have been disconcerting 
even to such a receptive and sympa- 
thetic circle. It performed little tricks 
like lying down, or holding two feet in 
the air, apparently for its own innocent 
delight. It emulated /Esop's affection- 
ate ass, and "seemed to wish to get into 
Lady Lodge's lap, and made caressing 
movements to and fro, as if it could not 
get close enough to her." It jocularly 
thumped piano-players on the back; 
and when a cushion was held up to pro- 
tect them, it banged a hole in the cover. 
WTiat wonder that several tables were 
broken "during the more exuberant 
period of these domestic sittings, before 
the power was under control " ; and that 
the family was compelled to provide a 
strong and heavy article which could 
stand the "skylarking" (Sir Oliver's 
word) of supernatural visitors. 

The ouija board, though an improve- 
ment on the table, is mechanical and 
37 



Points of Friction 

cumbersome. It has long been the 
chosen medium of that most prolific of 
spirit writers, Patience Worth; and a 
sympathetic disciple once ventured to 
ask her if there were no less laborious 
method by which she could compose her 
stories. To which Patience, who then 
used a language called by her editor 
"archaic," and who preferred to "dock 
the smaller parts-o' -speech," replied 
formidably, — 

"The hand o' her do I to put be the 
hand o' her, and 't is ascribe that set- 
teth the one awither by eyes-fulls she 
taketh in." 

The disciple's mind being thus set at 
rest, he inquired how Patience discov- 
ered this avenue of approach, and was 
told, — 

' ' I did to seek at crannies for to put ; ay, 
an't wer the her o' her who tireth past 
the her o' her, and slippeth to a naught 
o' putting; and 't wer the me o' me at 
seek, aye, and find. Aye, and 't wer so." 
38 



Dead Authors 

The casual and inexpert reader is not 
always sure what Patience means to 
say ; but to the initiated her cryptic and 
monosyllabic speech offers no difficul- 
ties. WTien asked if she were acquainted 
with the spirit of the late Dr. William 
James, she said darkly, — 

" I telled a one o' the brothers and the 
neighbours o' thy day, and he doth 
know." 

"This," comments Mr. Yost, "was 
considered as an affirmative reply," and 
with it her questioners were content. 

All fields of literature are open to Pa- 
tience Worth, and she disports herself 
by turns in prose and verse, fiction and 
philosophy. Other spirits have their 
specialties. They write, as a rule, letters, 
sermons, didactic essays, vers litre, and 
an occasional story. But Patience writes 
six-act dramas which, we are assured, 
could, "with a little alteration," be 
produced upon the stage, short come- 
dies "rich in humour," country tales, 
39 



Points of Friction 

mystical tales, parables, aphorisms, 
volumes of verse, and historical novels. 
In three years and a half she dictated 
to Mrs. Curran, her patient ouija-board 
amanuensis, 900,000 words. It is my 
belief that she represents a spirit syn- 
dicate, and lends her name to a large 
coterie of literary wraiths. The most 
discouraging feature of her performance 
is the possibility of its indefinite ex- 
tension. She is what Mr. Yost calls "a 
continuing phenomenon." Being dead 
already, she cannot die, and the benefi- 
cent limit which is set to mortal endeav- 
our does not exist for her. "The larger 
literature is to come," says Mr. Yost 
ominously; and we fear he speaks the 
truth. I 

Now what do we gain by this lament- 
able intrusion of ghostly aspirants into 
the serried ranks of authorship? What is 
the value of their work, and what is its 
ethical significance? Perhaps because 
literary distinction is a rare quality, the 
40 



Dead Authors 

editors and publishers of these revela- 
tions lay stress upon the spiritual in- 
sight, the finer wisdom, which may- 
accrue to us from direct contact with 
liberated souls. They even hint at some 
great moral law which may be thus re- 
vealed for our betterment. But the law 
of Christ is as pure and lofty as any 
code our human intelligence can grasp. 
We do not live by it, because it makes 
no concession to the sickly qualities 
which cement our earthly natures; but 
we hold fast to it as an incomparable 
ideal. It is not law or light we need. It 
is the power of effort and resistance. 
"Toutes les bonnes maximes sont dans 
le monde ; on ne manque que de les ap- 
pliquer." 

The didacticism of spirit authors is, so 
far, their most striking characteristic. 
As Mr. Henry James would put it, they 
are "awkward writers, but yearning 
moralists." Free from any shadow of 
diffidence, they proffer a deal of counsel, 
41 



Points of Friction 

but it is mostly of the kind which our 
next-door neighbour has at our com- 
mand. 

In the volume called "Letters from 
Harry and Helen," the dead children 
exhort their relatives continuously ; and 
their exhortations, albeit of a some- 
what intimate character, have been 
passed on to the public as "an inspira- 
tion to the life of brotherhood." Helen, 
for example, bids her mother and sister 
give away the clothes they do not need. 
"You had better send the pink dress to 
B. You won't wear it. Lace and a few 
good bits of jewelry you can use, and 
these won't hurt your progress." She 
also warns them not to take long motor 
rides with large parties. The car holds 
four comfortably; but if her sister will 
go all afternoon with five people packed 
into it, she is sure to be ill. This is sensi- 
ble advice, but can it be needful that 
the dead should revisit earth to give it? 

Harry, a hardy and boisterous spirit, 
42 



Dead Authors 

with a fine contempt for precautions, 
favours a motor trip across the conti- 
nent, gallantly assures his family that 
the project is "perfectly feasible," tells 
his sister to "shoot some genuine food" 
at her sick husband, who appears to 
have been kept on a low diet, and ob- 
serves with pleasure that his mother is 
overcoming her aversion to tobacco. 
"Mamma is learning," he comments 
patronizingly. "Some day she will arrive 
at the point where a smoker will fail to 
arouse a spark of criticism, or even of 
interest. When tJmt day comes, she will 
have learned what she is living Jor this 
time." 

Here was a chance for a ghostly son to 
get even with the parent who had dis- 
paraged the harmless pleasures of his 
youth. Harry is not the kind of a spirit 
to miss such an opportunity. He finds 
a great deal to correct in his family, a 
great deal to blame in the world, and 
some things to criticize in the universe. 
43 



Points of Friction 

** I suppose the Creator knows his own 
business best," he observes grudgingly; 
"but there have been moments when 
I felt I could suggest improvements. 
For instance, had I been running affairs, 
I should have been a little more open 
about this reincarnation plan of elevat- 
ing the individual. Why let a soul bog- 
gle along blindly for numberless lives, 
when just a friendly tip would have 
illuminated the whole situation, and 
enabled him to plan with far less 
waste? " 

"O eloquent, just and mighty death!" 
Have we professed to break thy bar- 
riers, to force thy pregnant silence into 
speech, only to make of thy majesty a 
vulgar farce, and, of thy consolations, 
folly and self-righteousness? 

The "Living Dead Man" has also a 
course of instruction, in fact several 
courses of instruction, to offer. His 
counsels are all of the simplest. He bids 
us drink plenty of water, because water 
44 



Dead Authors 

feeds our astral bodies ; to take plenty of 
sleep, because sleep fits us for work ; and 
on no account to lose our tempers. He is 
a gentle, garrulous ghost, and his first 
volume is filled with little anecdotes 
about his new — and very dull — sur- 
roundings, and mild little stories of ad- 
venture. He calls himself an "astral 
Scheherazade," but no sultan would 
ever have listened to him for a thousand 
and one nights. He chants vers litre of a 
singularly uninspired order, and is par- 
ticular about his quotations. " If you 
print these letters," he tells his medium, 
" I wish you would insert here fragments 
from that wonderful poem of Words- 
worth, 'Intimations of Immortality 
from Recollections of Early Child- 
hood.'" Then follow nineteen lines of 
this fairly familiar masterpiece. There 
is something rather droll in having our 
own printed poets quoted to us length- 
ily by cultivated and appreciative spir- 
its. 

45 



Points of Friction 

The "War Letters" dictated by the 
''Living Dead Man" in the spring and 
summer of 191 5 are more animated and 
highly coloured. Some long-past epi- 
sodes, notably the entrance of the Ger- 
man soldiers into Brussels, are well de- 
scribed, though not so vividly as by the 
living Richard Harding Davis. We are 
told in the preface that on the fourth 
of February, 1 91 5, the spirit wrote: 
"When I come back" (he was touring 
to a distant star), "and tell you the 
story of this war, as seen from the other 
side, you will know more than all the 
Chancelleries of the nations." This 
promises well ; but in the three hundred 
pages that follow there is not one word 
to indicate that the "Living Dead 
Man" had any acquaintance with real 
happenings which were not published 
in our newspapers ; or that he was aware 
of these happenings before the news- 
papers published them. He is always on 
the safe side of prophecy. In a letter die- 
46 



Dead Authors 

tated on the seventh of May, the date of 
the sinking of the Lusitania, he makes no 
mention of the crime ; but the following 
morning, after the ghastly news was 
known to the world, he writes that he 
could have told it twenty-four hours 
earlier had he not feared to shock Mrs. 
Barker's sensibilities. 

It was a mistaken kindness. Nothing 
could save mankind from a knowledge 
of that terrible deed; but four w^ords 
spoken on the seventh of May would 
have revolutionized the world of 
thought. They would have compelled 
belief in phenomena which we are now 
intellectually free to reject. 

The events narrated by the "Living 
Dead Man" are of a kind which the 
Chancelleries of the nations had no 
need to know. He tells us that he and 
twenty other spirits stood for hours in 
the palace of Potsdam, trying with la- 
mentable lack of success to reduce by 
the pressure of their will the greater 
47 



Points of Friction 

pressure of the war-will surging through 
the German nation. He has a dramatic 
meeting with the spirit of the murdered 
Archduke, Franz Ferdinand, and a long 
interview with the spirit of Nietzsche, 
whom he commands — authoritatively 
— to go back to earth and teach humil- 
ity. He rests and refreshes the jaded 
spirit of a British officer, killed in ac- 
tion, by showing him a dance of sylphs ; 
and he meets an old acquaintance, the 
sylph Meriline (friend and familiar of 
a French magician), doing scout duty 
in the German trenches. Finally he 
assures us that Serbia is doomed to dis- 
aster, because a Serbian magician, who 
died many years ago, left her as a legacy 
a host of "astral monsters" that infest 
the land, awakening from slumber at the 
first hint of strife, and revelling in 
bloodshed and misery. 

It is hard lines on Serbia, and it 
sounds a good deal like the fairy tales of 
our happy infancy. The "Living Dead 
48 



Dead Authors 

Man" is careful to let us know that he 
has assisted at the war councils of Ber- 
lin, being enabled by an especial hard- 
ening of the astral ears to hear all that 
is spoken on earth. No secrets of state 
are hidden from him; but, on such 
weighty matters, discretion compels si- 
lence. Moreover, the vastness of his 
knowledge is out of accord with the 
puniness of our intelligence. It cannot 
be communicated, because there is no 
avenue of approach. "The attempt to 
tell the world what I know now is like 
tr\-ing to play Beethoven on a penny 
whistle. I feel as a mathematician would 
feel should he set himself down to teach 
addition to small children. I dare not 
tell you more than I do, for you could 
not contain it." 

And so we are told nothing. 

In the little book entitled, "Thy 

Son Liveth," which is said to have been 

dictated by an American soldier, killed 

in Flanders, to his mother, we have a 

49 



Points of Friction 

cheerful picture of active young spirits 
"carrying on" the business of war, re- 
lieving the wounded, soothing the dy- 
ing, working up wireless communica- 
tions ("The German operators cannot 
see us when we are around"), and occa- 
sionally playing the part of the gods 
before the walls of Troy. 

"I told you that we were not given 
any power over bullets, that we can 
comfort, but not save from what you 
call death. That is not quite the case, 
I find. Jack Wells directed me to stand 
by a junior lieutenant to-day, and im- 
pel him this way and that to avoid 
danger. I discovered that my percep- 
tions are much more sensitive than they 
were before I came out. I can estimate 
the speed, and determine the course, of 
shells. I stood by this fellow, nudged him 
here and there, and kept him from being 
hurt. 1 asked Wells if that was an an- 
swer to prayer. Wells said, 'No, the 
young chap is an inventor, and has a 
50 



Dead Authors 

job ahead of him that's of importance 
to the world.'" 

It is an interesting episode; but inter- 
vention, as we learn from Homer, is an 
open game. Perhaps some German lieu- 
tenant had a job ahead of him, and sci- 
entifically-minded German ghosts saved 
him from Allied shells. \Mien the dead 
American soldier writes that he is going 
to "get in touch with Edison," and 
work on devices to combat German 
machines, we ask ourselves whether 
dead German soldiers got in touch with 
Dr. Haber, and helped him make the 
poison gas and the flame-throwers 
which won the Nobel prize. 

That the son should proffer much 
good advice to his mother seems inev- 
itable, because it is the passion of all 
communicative spirits to advise. He is 
also happy to correct certain false im- 
pressions which she has derived from 
the Evangelists. 

" I got your wire calling my attention 
51 



Points of Friction 

to the scriptural statement that in Hea- 
ven there is neither marriage nor giving 
in marriage, and I do not know what to 
say. It seemed (until you gave me this 
jolt) that the Bible bears out every- 
thing that 1 have been able to tell you. 
Perhaps the chronicler got balled up in 
this particular quotation. For love and 
marriage are certainly in bud and flower 
here. I can see this fact with my own 
eyes." 

He can do more than see it with his 
own eyes. He can feel it with his own 
heart. A few pages later comes this 
naive confession: 

"Jack Wells and I are very close 
friends. His sister's name is Alice, and 
she has grown up in the country beyond, 
where his folks live. It seems all reach 
or return to maturity. Youth blossoms 
and flowers, but does not decay. I can 
call up her vision at any time. But I 
want her near." 

A simple and guileless little book, pre- 
52 



Dead Authors 

posterous only in the assumption that 
the human race has waited for centuries 
to receive its re\-eIations- 

We have been told that the Great War 
stands respra^ible for our mental dis- 
turfoanoe, for the repeated assaults apon 
taste and credulity before which the 
walls of our minds are grvii^ way. Mr. 
Howdls, observing rather sympatiieti- 
cally the ghostly stir and thrill vducfa 
pervades literature, asked if it were 
due to the overwhelming niunbers of 
the dead, if it came to us straight from 
sunken ships, and from the battle-fidds 
of Europe. 

^liat answer can we make save that 
natural laws woric independently of cir- 
cumstance? A single dead man and a 
million c^ dead men stand in the same 
relation to the Irving. If e\*er there was 
a time when it was needful to hold (m 
to our samt\^ with all our might, that 
time is now. Our thoughts turn, and will 
kmg turn, to the men who laid down 
53 



Points of Friction 

their lives for our safety. How could it 
be otherwise? There is, and there has 
always been, a sense of comradeship 
with the departed. It is a noble and a 
still comradeship, untarnished by illu- 
sions, unvulgarized by extravagant de- 
tails. Newman has portrayed it in "A 
Voice from Afar"; and Mr. Rowland 
Thirlmere has made it the theme of 
some very simple and touching verses 
called "Jimmy Doane." The elderly 
Englishman who has lost his friend, a 
young American aviator, "generous, 
clever, and confident," and who sits 
alone, with his heart cold and sore, feels 
suddenly the welcome nearness of the 
dead. No table heaves its heavy legs to 
announce that silent presence. No alpha- 
bet is needed for his message. But the 
living man says simply to his friend, 
"My house is always open to you," and 
hopes that they may sit quietly together 
when the dreams of both are realized, 
and the hour of deliverance comes. 
54 



Dead Authors 

The attitude of spirit authors to the 
war varies from the serene detachment 
of Raymond, who had been a soldier, 
to the passionate partisanship of the 
"Living Dead Man," who had been a 
civilian; but who, like the anonymous 
"Son," cannot refrain from playing a 
lively part in the struggle. "Many a 
time have I clutched with my too-tenu- 
ous hands a German soldier who was 
about to disgrace himself." Harry and 
Helen express some calm regret that 
the lack of unselfish love should make 
war possible, and report that " Hughey " 
— their brother-in-law's brother — "has 
gone to throw all he possesses of light 
into the dark struggle." Apparently his 
beams failed signally to illuminate the 
gloom, which is not surprising when 
we learn that "a selfish or ill-natured 
thought" (say from a Bulgarian or a 
Turk) "lowers the rate of vibration 
throughout the entire universe." They 
also join the "White Cross" nurses, and 
55 



Points of Friction 

are gratified that their knowledge of 
French enables them to receive and en- 
courage the rapidly arriving French sol- 
diers. Helen, being the better scholar of 
the two, is able to give first aid, while 
Harry brushes up his verbs. In the ab- 
sence of French caretakers, who seem 
to have all gone elsewhere, the two 
young Americans are in much demand. 
Remote from such crass absurdities 
(which have their confiding readers) 
is the quiet, if somewhat perfunctory, 
counsel given by " The Invisible Guide " 
to Mr. C. Lewis Hind, and by him trans- 
mitted to the public. There is nothing 
offensive or distasteful in this little vol- 
ume which has some charming chapters, 
and which purports to be an answer to 
the often asked question, "How may 
I enter into communion with the de- 
parted?" If the admonitions of the dead 
soldier, who is the "Guide," lack pith 
and marrow, they do not lack it more 
perceptibly than do the admonitions of 
56 



Dead Authors 

living counsellors, and he is always com- 
mendably brief. WTiat depresses us is 
the quality of his pacifism expressed at 
a time which warranted the natural and 
noble anger awakened by injustice. 

It is the peculiarity of all pacifists 
that wrongdoing disturbs them less than 
does the hostility it provokes. The 
"Guide" has not a sigh to waste over 
Belgium and Serbia. Air-raids and sub- 
marines fail to disturb his serenity. But 
he cannot endure a picture called Ali- 
trailleuse, which represents four French 
soldiers firing a machine gun. When his 
friend, the author, so far forgets himself 
as to be angry at the insolence of some 
Germans, the "Guide," pained by such 
intolerance, refuses any communica- 
tion; and when, in more cheerful mood, 
the author ventures to be a bit enthusi- 
astic over the gallant feats of a young 
aviator, the "Guide" murmurs faintly 
and reproachfully, "It is the mothers 
that suffer." 

57 



Points of Friction 

One is forced to doubt if guidance such 
as this would ever have led to victory. 

Raymond, though he has been thrust 
before the public without pity and with- 
out reserve, has shown no disposition to 
enter the arena of authorship. He has 
been content to prattle to his own fam- 
ily about the conditions that surround 
him, about the brick house he lives in, 
the laboratories he visits, where "all 
sorts of things" are manufactured out 
of "essences and ether and gases," — 
rather like German war products, and 
the lectures that he attends. The sub- 
jects of these lectures are spirituality, 
concentration, and — alas! — "the pro- 
jection of uplifting and helpful thoughts 
to those on the earth plane." Such 
scraps of wisdom as are vouchsafed him 
he passes dutifully on to his parents. 
He tells his mother that, on the spiritual 
plane, "Rank does n't count as a virtue. 
High rank comes by being virtuous." 
"Kind hearts are more than coronets." 
58 



Dead Authors 

Also that "It is n't always the parsons 
that go highest first," and that "It 
is n't what you Ve professed ; it 's what 
you've done." Something of this kind 
we have long suspected. Something of 
this kind has long been hinted from the 
plain pulpits of the world. 

I fear it is the impatience of the hu- 
man mind, the hardness of the human 
heart, which make us restless under too 
much preaching. Volume after volume 
of "messages" have been sent to us by 
spirits during the last few years. There 
is no fault to be found with any of them, 
and that sad word, "uplifting," may 
well apply to all. Is it possible that, when 
we die, we shall preach to one another; 
or is it the elusiveness of ghostly audi- 
ences which drives determined preach- 
ers to the ouija board? The somewhat 
presumptuous title, "To Walk With 
God," which Mrs. Lane and Mrs. Beale 
have given to their volume of revela- 
tions, was, we are told, commanded by 
59 



Points of Friction 

the spirit who dictated it. "Stephen," 
the dead soldier who stands responsible 
for the diffuse philosophy of "Our Un- 
seen Guest," dedicates the book to the 
"wistful " questioners who seek enlight- 
enment at his hands. "Anne Simon," a 
transcendental spirit with a strong bias 
for hyphenated words, sends her modest 
"Message," dictated through her hus- 
band, to "world-mortals for their re- 
generation." 

How lightly that tremendous word, 
"regeneration," is bandied about by our 
ghostly preceptors. Mr. Basil King, in 
"The Abolishing of Death," reports the 
spirit of Henry Talbot, the distinguished 
Boston chemist, assaying, " My especial 
mission is to regenerate the world." It is 
a large order. The ungrateful but always 
curious mortal who would like a few 
practical hints about chemistry, is told 
instead that "grief is unrhythmical," 
which proves that Mr. Talbot never 
read "In Memoriam"; or finds himself 
60 



Dead Authors 

beset by figurative phrases. "Literature 
is the sun, music is the water, sculpture 
is the earth, dancing is life, and painting 
is the soul. These in their purity can 
never be evil. I have spread a table in 
your sight. WTiatever is on it is for your 
use. Take freely, and give it to others. 
They hunger for the food." 

For what do we hunger? For any 
word which will help us on our hard but 
interesting way, any word which is wise, 
or practically useful, or beautiful. It has 
been revealed to Mr. King that poets as 
splendid as Homer and Shakespeare 
bloom in the spirit world. \Miy, in the 
general assault by dead authors, are 
they the silent ones? Could they not give 
us one good play, one good lyric, one 
good sonnet, just to show a glint of their 
splendour? What is wrong with psychic 
currents that they bear nothing of value? 
"Stephen," the "Unseen Guest," as- 
sures us that many a man we call a 
genius "simply puts into words the 
6i 



Points of Friction 

thoughts of some greater mentality in 
the other life." But this is not adding to 
our store. It is trying to take away from 
us the merit of what we have. **Anne 
Simon " reads the riddle thus : " In earth- 
proximity the spirit leaves behind him 
his efhcacy, for the time, of Heaven- 
emanation ; so it is better to open the 
heart, and wish the larger beneficence 
than to visualize the spirit-form. For the 
spirit-form without its spirit-treasure 
does not bring the mortal to the higher 
places." 

Which, though not wholly intelligible, 
is doubtless true. 

If we do not get what we hunger for, 
what is it we receive? Professor Hyslop 
once assured me that the authorship of 
"Jap Herron" was "proved beyond 
question." This contented him, but dis- 
mayed me. The eclipse of the "merry 
star " which danced above Mark Twain's 
cradle, and which shone on him fitfully 
through life, suggests direful possibili- 
62 



Dead Authors 

ties in the future. It is whispered that 
O. Henry is busily dictating allegories 
and tracts; that Dickens may yet reveal 
"The Mystery of Edwin Drood"; that 
Washington Irving has loomed on the 
horizon of an aspiring medium. The 
publication of "Shakespeare's Revela- 
tions, by Shakespeare's Spirit: A Soul's 
Record of Defeat," adds a touch of fan- 
tastic horror to the situation. The taste 
of the world, like the sanity of the world, 
has seemingly crashed into impotence. 
Patience Worth is fortunate in so far 
that she has no earlier reputation at 
stake. In fact, we are informed that 
three of her stories are told in "a dia- 
lect which, taken as a whole, was prob- 
ably never spoken, and certainly never 
written. Each seems to be a composite 
of dialect words and idioms of different 
periods and different localities." It is 
^Ir. Yost's opinion, however, that her 
long historical novel, "The Sorry Tale," 
is composed " in a literary tongue some- 
63 



Points of Friction 

what resembling the language of the 
King James version of the Bible in form 
and style, but with the unmistakable 
verbal peculiarities of Patience Worth." 
"What bringeth thee asearch?" and 
"UTio hath the trod of the antelope?" 
are doubtless verbal peculiarities; but 
for any resemblance to the noble and 
vigorous lucidity of the English Bible 
we may search in vain through the six 
hundred and forty closely printed pages 
of this confused, wandering, sensuous, 
and wholly unreadable narrative, which 
purports to tell the life-history of the 
penitent thief. I quote a single para- 
graph, snatched at random from the 
text, which may serve as a sample of 
the whole: 

"And within, upon the skins'-pack, 
sat Samuel, who listed him, and lo, the 
jaws of him hung ope. And Jacob wailed, 
and the Jew's tongue of him sounded as 
the chatter of fowls, and he spake of 
the fool that plucked of his ass that he 
64 



Dead Authors 

save of down. Yea, and walked him at 
the sea's edge, and yet sought o' pools. 
And he held aloft unto the men who 
hung them o'er the bin's place handsful 
of brass and shammed precious stuffs, 
and cried him out." 

Six hundred and forty pages of this 
kind of writing defy a patient world. 
And we are threatened with "the larger 
literature to come"! 

"Hope Trueblood," Patience Worth's 
last novel, is written in intelligible Eng- 
lish, as is also the greater part of her 
verse. The story deals with the doubtful 
legitimacy of a little girl in an English 
village which has lived its life along such 
straight lines that the mere existence of 
a bastard child, or a child thought to be 
a bastard, rocks it to its foundations, 
and furnishes sufficient matter for vio- 
lent and heart-wounding scenes from 
the first chapter to the last. It is diffi- 
cult to follow the fortunes of this child 
(who might have been the great original 
65 



Points of Friction 

devil baby of Hull House for the pother 
she creates) because of the confusion of 
the narrative, and because of the cruelly- 
high pitch at which all emotions are 
sustained ; but we gather that the mar- 
riage lines are at last triumphantly pro- 
duced, and that the village is suffered 
to relapse into the virtuous somnolence 
of earlier days. 

Mr. Yost, who has edited all of Pa- 
tience Worth's books, and who is per- 
haps a partial critic, praises her poems 
for their rare individuality. We may 
search in vain, he says, through litera- 
ture for anything resembling them. 
"They are alike in the essential features 
of all poetry, and yet they are unalike. 
There is something in them that is not 
in other poetry. In the profusion of their 
metaphor there is an etherealness that 
more closely resembles Shelley, perhaps, 
than any other poet ; but the beauty of 
Shelley's poems is almost wholly in their 
diction ; there is in him no profundity of 
66 



Dead Authors 

thought. In these poems there is both 
beauty and depth, — and something 
else." 

WTiatever this "something else" may 
be, it is certainly not rhyme or rhythm. 
The verses brook no bondage, but ma 
loosely on with the perilous ease of en- 
franchisement. For the most part they 
are of the kind which used to be classi- 
fied by compilers as " Poems of Nature," 
and "Poems of Sentiment and Reflec- 
tion." Spring, summer, autumn, and 
winter are as inspirational for the dead 
as for the living. 

" 'T is season's parting. 
Yea, and earth doth weep. The Winter cometh, 
And he bears her jewels for the decking 
Of his bride. A glittered crown 
Shall fall 'pon earth, and sparkled drop 
Shall stand like gem that flasheth 
'Pon a nobled brow. Yea, the tears 
Of earth shall freeze and drop 
As pearls, the necklace o' the earth, 
*T is season's parting. Yea, 
The earth doth weep. _ 
'T is FalL" 

67 



Points of Friction 

These simple statements might justifi- 
ably be printed without the capital letters 
which distinguish prose from verse; but 
we can understand them, and we are fa- 
miliar with the phenomena they describe. 
Byron has recorded in a letter to 
Hoppner the profound impression made 
upon him by two concise epitaphs in the 
cemetery of Bologna. 

MARTINI LUIGI 
Implora pace. 

LUCREZIA PICINI 

Implora eterna quiete. 

It seemed to the poet — himself in need 
of peace — that all the weariness of life, 
and all the gentle humility of the tired 
but trusting soul, were compressed 
into those lines. There is nothing calam- 
itous in death. / 

"The patrimony of a little mould, 
And entail of four planks," 

is the common heritage of mankind, 

and we accept it reverently. A belief in 

68 



Dead Authors 

the immortality of the soul has been 
fairly familiar to Christendom before 
the spiritualists adopted it as their 
exclusive slogan. But to escape from 
time, only to enter upon an eternity 
shorn of ever^iJiing which could make 
eternity endurable, to pass through the 
narrow door which opens on the high- 
ways of God, only to find ourselves dic- 
tating dull books, and deUvering plati- 
tudinous lectures, — which of us has 
courage to face such possibilities! 

We are told that once, when Patience 
Worth was spelling out the endless pages 
of "The Sorry Tale," she came to a sud- 
den stop, then WTote, "This be nuff," 
and knocked off for the night. A blessed 
phrase, and, of a certaint>', her finest in- 
spiration. \^'ould that all dead authors 
would adopt it as their motto; and with 
ouija boards, and table-legs, and auto- 
matic pencils, write as their farewell 
message to the world those three short, 
comely words, "This be nuff." 



Consolations of the 
Conservative 

THERE is a story of Hawthorne's 
which is little known, because it is 
too expansively dull to be read. It tells 
how the nations of the earth, convulsed 
by a mighty spasm of reform, rid them- 
selves of the tools and symbols of all 
they held in abhorrence. Because they 
would have no more war, they destroyed 
the weapons of the world. Because they 
would have no more drunkenness, they 
destroyed its wines and spirits. Because 
they banned self-indulgence, they de- 
stroyed tobacco, tea, and coffee. Be- 
cause they would have all men to be 
equal, they destroyed the insignia of 
rank, from the crown jewels of England 
to the medal of the Cincinnati. Wealth 
itself was not permitted to survive, lest 
the new order be as corrupt as was the 
70 



Conservative's Consolations 

old. Nothing was left but the human 
heart with its imperishable and inalien- 
able qualities ; and while it beats within 
the human breast, the world must still 
be moulded by its passions. "When 
Cain wished to slay his brother," mur- 
mured a cynic, watching the great guns 
trundled to the blaze, "he was at no loss 
for a weapon." 

If belief in the perfectibility of man 
— and not of man only, but of govern- 
ments — is the inspiration of liberalism, 
of radicalism, of the spirit that calls 
clamorously for change, and that has 
requisitioned the words reform and pro- 
gression, sympathy with man and with 
his work, with the beautiful and imper- 
fect things he has made of the chequered 
centuries, is the keynote of conserva- 
tism. The temperamental consen^ative 
is a type vulnerable to ridicule, yet not 
more innately ridiculous than his neigh- 
bours. He has been carelessly defined as 
a man who is cautious because he has a 
71 



Points of Friction 

good income, and content because he is 
well placed ; who is thick-headed because 
he lacks vision, and close-hearted be- 
cause he is deaf to the moaning wind 
which is the cry of unhappy humanity 
asking justice from a world which has 
never known how to be just. Lecky, 
who had a neat hand at analysis, char- 
acterized the great conflicting parties 
in an axiom which pleased neither: 
"Stupidity in all its forms is Tory; folly 
in all its forms is Whig." 

These things have been too often said 
to be quite worth the saying. Stupidity 
is not the prerogative of any one class or 
creed. It is Heaven's free gift to men of 
all kinds, and conditions, and civiliza- 
tions. A practical man, said Disraeli, is 
one who perpetuates the blunders of his 
predecessor instead of striking out into 
blunders of his own. Temperamental 
conservatism is the dower (not to be 
coveted) of men in whom delight and 
doubt — I had almost said delight and 
72 



Conservative's Consolations 

despair — contend for mastery; whose 
enjoyment of colour, light, atmosphere, 
tradition, language and literature is 
balanced by chilling apprehensiveness ; 
whose easily won pardon for the shame- 
less revelations of an historic past brings 
with it no healing belief in the trium- 
phant virtues of the future. 

The conservative is not an idealist, 
any more than he is an optimist. Ideal- 
ism has worn thin in these days of 
colossal violence and colossal cupidity. 
Perhaps it has always been a cloak for 
more crimes than even liberty sheltered 
under her holy name. The French 
Jacobins were pure idealists; but they 
translated the splendour of their aspi- 
rations, the nobility and amplitude of 
their great conception, into terms of 
commonplace official murder, which are 
all the more displeasing to look back 
upon because of the riot of sentimental- 
ism and impiety which disfigured them. 
It is bad enough to be bad, but to be 
73 



Points of Friction 

bad in bad taste is unpardonable. If we 
had resolutely severed the word "ideal- 
ism" from the bloody chaos which is 
Russia, we should have understood more 
clearly, and have judged no less leni- 
ently, the seething ambitions of men 
who passionately desired, and desire, 
control. The elemental instinct of self- 
preservation is the first step to the 
equally elemental instinct of self-inter- 
est. Natural rights, about which we 
chatter freely, are not more equably 
preserved by denying them to one class 
of men than by denying them to an- 
other. They have been ill-protected 
under militarism and capitalism; and 
their subversion has been a sin crying 
out to Heaven for vengeance. They are 
not protected at all under any Soviet 
government so far known to report. 

Nothing is easier than to make the 

world safe for democracy. Democracy 

is playing her own hand in the game. 

She has every intention and every op- 

74 



Conservative's Consolations 

portunity to make the world safe for 
herself. But democracy may be di- 
vorced from freedom, and freedom is 
the breath of man's nostrils, the strength 
of his sinews, the sanction of his soul. 
It is as painful to be tyrannized over by 
a proletariat as by a tsar or by a cor- 
poration, and it is in a measure more 
disconcerting, because of the greater 
incohesion of the process. It is as revolt- 
ing to be robbed by a reformer as by a 
trust. Oppressive taxation, which forced 
the great Revolution upon France ; dis- 
honest ** deals," which have made a 
mockery of justice in the United States; 
ironic laws, framed for the convenient 
looting of the bourgeoisie in Russia; — 
there is as much idealism in one device 
as in the others. Sonorous phrases like 
"reconstruction of the world's psychol- 
ogy*" arid "creation of a new world- 
atmosphere," are mental sedatives, drug 
words, calculated to put to sleep any 
uneasy apprehensions. They may mean 
75 



Points of Friction 

anything, and they do mean nothing, 
so that it is safe to go on repeating 
them. But a Bolshevist official was ar- 
rested in Petrograd in March, 1919, 
charged with embezzling fifteen million 
rubles. Not content with the excesses of 
the new regime, he must needs revert to 
the excesses of the old, — a discourag- 
ing study in evolution. 

When Lord Hugh Cecil published his 
analysis of conservatism nine years ago, 
the British reviewers devoted a great 
deal of time to its consideration, — not 
so much because they cared for what the 
author had to say (though he said it 
thoughtfully and well), as because they 
had opinions of their own on the sub- 
ject, and desired to give them utterance. 
Cecil's conception of temperamental, as 
apart from modem British political con- 
servatism (which he dates from Pitt and 
Burke), affords the most interesting 
part of the volume; but the line of 
demarcation is a wavering one. That 
76 



Conservative's Consolations 

famous sentence of Burke's concerning 
innovations that are not necessarily 
reforms, "They shake the public secur- 
ity, they menace private enjoyment," 
shows the alliance between tempera- 
ment and valuation. It was Burke's 
passionate delight in life's expression, 
rather than in life's adventure, that 
made him alive to its values. He was not 
averse to change: change is the law of 
the universe ; but he changed in order to 
preserv^e. The constructive forces of the 
world persistently won his deference 
and support. 

The intensely British desire to have a 
moral, and, if possible, a religious foun- 
dation for a political creed would com- 
mand our deepest respect, were the hu- 
man mind capable of accommodating 
its convictions to morality and religion, 
instead of accommodating morality and 
religion to its convictions. Cecil, a stem 
individualist, weighted with a heavy 
sense of personal responsibility, and dis- 
77 



Points of Friction 

posed to distrust the kindly intervention 
of the State, finds, naturally enough, 
that Christianity is essentially individu- 
alistic. "There is not a line of the New 
Testament that can be quoted in favour 
of the enlargement of the function of 
the State beyond the elementary duty 
of maintaining order and suppressing 
crime." 

The obvious retort to this would be 
that there is not a line in the New Testa- 
ment which can be quoted in favour of 
the confinement of the function of the 
State to the elementary duty of main- 
taining order and suppressing crime. 
The counsel of Christ is a counsel of 
perfection, and a counsel of perfection 
is necessarily personal and intimate. 
What the world asks now are state 
reforms and social reforms, — in other 
words, the reformation of our neigh- 
bours. What the Gospel asks, and has 
always asked, is the reformation of our- 
selves, — a harassing and importunate 
78 



Conservative's Consolations 

demand. Mr. Chesterton spoke but the 
truth when he said that Christianity 
has not been tried and found wanting. 
It has been found difficult, and not 
tried. 

Cecil's conclusions anent the uncon- 
cern of the Gospels with forms of gov- 
ernment were, strangely enough, the 
points very ardently disputed by Bible- 
reading England. A critic in the "Con- 
temporary Review " made the interest- 
ing statement that the political economy 
of the New Testament is radical and 
sound. He illustrated his argument with 
the parable of the labourers in the vine- 
yard, pointing out that the master paid 
the men for the hours in which they had 
had no work. "In the higher econom- 
ics," he said, "the State, as represent- 
ing the community, is responsible for 
those who, through the State's mal- 
feasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance, 
are unable to obtain the work for which 
they wait." 

79 



Points of Friction 

But apart from the fact that the par- 
able is meant to have a spiritual and not 
a material significance, there is nothing 
in the Gospel to indicate that the mas- 
ter considered that he owed the late- 
comers their day's wage. His comment 
upon his own action disclaims this as- 
sumption: " Is it not lawful for me to do 
what I will with mine own?" And it is 
worthy of note that the protest against 
his liberality comes, not from other 
vine-growers objecting to a precedent, 
but from the labourers who cannot be 
brought to see that an hour's work done 
by their neighbours may be worth as 
much as twelve hours' work done by 
themselves. Human nature has not al- 
tered perceptibly in the course of two 
thousand years. 

Great Britain's experiment in doling 
out "unemployment pay" was based on 
expediency, and on the generous hy- 
pothesis that men and women, outside 
of the professional pauper class, would 
80 



Conservative's Consolations 

prefer work with wages to wages with- 
out work. A cartoon in " Punch " repre- 
senting the Minister of Labour blandly 
and insinuatingly presenting a house- 
maid's uniform to an outraged **ex- 
munitionette," who is the Govern- 
ment's contented pensioner, suggests 
some rift in this harmonious under- 
standing. Progressives have branded 
temperamental conservatism as distrust 
of the unknown, — a mental attitude 
which is the antithesis of love of adven- 
ture. But distrust of the unknown is a 
thin and fleeting emotion compared with 
distrust of human nature, which is per- 
fectly well known. To know it is not 
necessarily to quarrel with it. It is 
merely to take it into account. 

Economics and ethics have little in 
common. They meet in amity, only to 
part in coldness. Our preference for our 
own interests is essentially and vitally 
un-Christian. The competitive system is 
not a Christian system. But it lies at the 
8i 



Points of Friction 

root of civilisation; it has its noble as 
well as its ignoble side; it is the main- 
spring of both nationalism and inter- 
nationalism; it is the force which sup- 
ports governments, and the force which 
violently disrupts them. Men have risen 
above self-interest for life; nations, su- 
perbly for a time. The sense of shock 
which was induced by Germany's acute 
reversion to barbarism was deeper than 
the sense of danger induced by her 
vaulting ambitions. There is no such 
passionate feeling in life as that which 
is stirred by the right and duty of de- 
fence ; and for more than four years the 
Allied nations defended the world from 
evils which the world fancied it had long 
outgrown. The duration of the war is 
the most miraculous part of the mi- 
raculous tale. A monotony of heroism, a 
monotony of sacrifice, transcends imag- 
ination. 

Now it is over. Citizens of the United 
States walked knee-deep in newspapers 
82 



Conservative's Consolations 

for a joyous night to signify their satis- 
faction, and at once embarked on viva- 
cious disputes over memorial arches, 
and statues, and monuments. The na- 
tions of Europe, with lighter pockets 
and heavier stakes, began to consider 
difficulties and to cultivate doubts. No 
one can fail to understand the destruc- 
tive forces of the world, because they 
have given object-lessons on a large and 
lurid scale. But the constructive forces 
are on trial, with imposing chances of 
success or failure. They are still in the 
wordy stage, and now, as never before, 
the world is sick of words. "This is 
neither the time nor the place for su- 
perfluous phrases," said Clemenceau 
(ironically, one hopes), when he placed 
in the hands of Count von Brockdorff- 
Rantzau a peace treaty which some 
stony-hearted wag has informed us was 
precisely the length of "A Tale of Two 
Cities." The appalling discursiveness of 
the Versailles Conference has added to 
83 



Points of Friction 

the confusion of the world; but fitted 
into the "Preamble" of the Covenant 
of the League of Nations are five lit- 
tle vocables, four of them monosyl- 
labic, which embody the one arresting 
thought that dominates and authorizes 
the articles, — "Not to resort to war." 
These five words are the crux of the 
whole serious and sanguine scheme. 
They hold the hope of the weak, and 
the happiness of the insecure. They 
deny to the strong the pleasures — 
and the means — of coercion. 

The rapid changes wrought by the 
twentieth century are less disconcert- 
ing to the temperamental conservative, 
who is proverbially slow, than move- 
ments which take time to be persuasive. 
For one thing, the vast spiral along 
which the world spins brings him face 
to face with new friends before he loses 
sight of the old. The revolutionary of 
yesterday is the reactionary of to-day, 
and the conservative finds himself hob- 
8a 



Conservative's Consolations 

nobbing with men and women whom he 
had thought remote as the Poles. 

Two interesting examples are Ma- 
dame Catherine Breshkovskaya and 
Mr. Samuel Gompers. Time was, and 
not so many years ago, when both con- 
doned violence — the violence of the 
Russian Nihilist, the violence of the 
American dynamiter — as a short road 
to justice. Their attitude was not un- 
like that of the first Southern lynchers: 
"We take the law into our own hands, 
because conditions are unbearable, and 
the State affords no adequate relief." 
But Madame Breshkovskaya has seen 
the forces she helped to set in motion 
sweeping in unanticipated and shatter- 
ing currents. She has seen a new terror- 
ism arise and wield the weapons of the 
old to crush man's sacred freedom. The 
peasants she loved have been beyond 
the reach of her help. The country for 
which she suffered thirty years of exile 
repudiated her. Radicals in Europe and 
85 



Points of Friction 

in the United States mocked at her. 
The Grandmother of the Revolution 
has become a conservative old lady, 
concerned, as good grandmothers ought 
to be, with the welfare of little children, 
and pleading pitifully for order and edu- 
cation. 

As for Mr. Gompers, his unswerving 
loyalty to the cause of the Allies, his un- 
swerving rejection of Germany and all 
her works, will never be forgiven by 
pacifists, by the men and women who 
had no word of protest or of pity when 
Belgium was invaded, when the Lusi- 
tania was sunk, when towns were 
burned, civilians butchered, and girls 
deported; and who recovered their 
speech only to plead for the nation that 
had disregarded human sufferings and 
human rights. Mr. Gompers helped as 
much as any one man in the United 
States to win the war, and winning a 
war is very distasteful to those who do 
not want to fight. Therefore has he 
86 



Conservative's Consolations 

been relegated by international Social- 
ists, who held hands for four years with 
Pan-German Socialists, to the ranks 
of the conservatives. WTien the "Na- 
tion," speaking ex cathedra, says, "The 
authority of the old machine-type of 
labour leader like Mr. Gompers is im- 
paired beyond help or hope," we hear 
the echo of the voices which babbled 
about capitalism and profiteering in 
April, 191 7. The Great War has made 
and unmade the friendships of the 
world. If the radicals propose it as a 
test, as a test the conservatives will 
accept it. 

The successive revolutions which 
make the advance-guard of one move- 
ment the rear-guard of the next are as 
expeditious and as overwhelming in the 
field of art as in the fields of politics and 
sociology. In the spring of 1877 an ex- 
hibition of two hundred and forty pic- 
tures, the work of eighteen artists, was 
opened in the rue le Peletier, Paris. 
87 



Points of Friction 

For some reason, never sufficiently ex- 
plained, Parisians found in these can- 
vases a source of infinite diversion. 
They went to the exhibition in a mood 
of obvious hilarity. They began to 
laugh while they were still, in the 
street, they laughed as they climbed the 
stairs, they were convulsed with laugh- 
ter when they looked at the pictures, 
they laughed every time they talked 
them over with their friends. 

Now what were these mirth-provoking 
works of art? Not cubist diagrams, not 
geometrical charts of human anatomy, 
not reversible landscapes, not rainbow- 
tinted pigs. Such exhilarants lay in wait 
for another century and another gener- 
ation. The pictures which so abundantly 
amused Paris in 1877 were painted by 
Claude Monet, Pissarro, Cezanne, Re- 
noir, — men of genius, who, having 
devised a new and brilliant technique, 
abandoned themselves with too little 
reserve to the veracities of impression- 



Conservative's Consolations 

ism. They were not doctrinaires. The 
peace they disturbed was only the 
peace of immobility. But they were 
drunk with new wine. Their strength 
lay in their courage and their candour; 
their w^eakness in the not unnatural 
assumption that they were expressing 
the finalities of art. 

Defenders they had in plenty. No 
pioneer can escape from the hardship of 
vindication. Years before, Baudelaire 
had felt it incumbent upon himself, as 
a professional mutineer, to support the 
"fearless innovations" of Manet. Zola, 
always on the lookout for somebody to 
attack or to defend, was equally en- 
thusiastic and equally choleric. Loud 
disputation rent the air while the world 
sped on its way, and lesser artists dis- 
covered, to their joy, what a facile 
thing it was to produce nerve-racking 
novelties. In 1892, John La Farge, 
wandering disconsolately through the 
exhibitions of Paris, wondered if there 
89 



Points of Friction 

might not still be room for something 
simple in art. 

Ever and always the reproach cast 
at the conservative is that he has been 
blind in the beginning to the beauty- 
he has been eventually compelled to 
recognize; and ever and always he re- 
plies that, in the final issue, he is the 
guardian of all beauty. His are the im- 
perishable standards, his is the love for 
a majestic past, his is the patience to 
wait until the wheat has been sorted 
from the chaff, and gathered into the 
granaries of the world. If he be hostile 
to the problematic, which is his weak- 
ness, he is passionately loyal to the 
tried and proven, which is his strength. 
He is as necessary to human sanity as 
the progressive is necessary to human 
hope. 

Civilization and culture are very old 
and very beautiful. They imply refine- 
ment of humour, a disciplined taste, sen- 
sitiveness to noble impressions, and a 
90 



Conservative's Consolations 

wise acceptance of the laws of evidence. 
These things are not less valuable for 
being undervalued. "At the present 
time," says the most acute of American 
critics, J\Ir. Brownell, "it is quite gen- 
erally imagined that we should gain 
rather than lose by having Raphael 
without the Church, and Rembrandt 
without the Bible." The same notion, 
less clearly defined, is prevalent con- 
cerning Milton and Dante. We had 
grown weary of large and compelling 
backgrounds until the Great War fo- 
cussed our emotions. We are impatient 
still of large and compelling traditions. 
The tendency is to localization and 
analysis. 

The new and facile experiments in 
verse, which have some notable ex- 
ponents, are interesting and indecisive. 
Midway betw^een the enthusiasm of the 
experimenters (which is not contagious) 
and the ribald gibes of the disaffected 
(which are not convincing) the con- 
91 



Points of Friction 

servative critic practises that watchful 
waiting, so safe in the world of art, so 
hazardous in the world of action. He 
cannot do as he has been bidden, and 
judge the novel product by its own 
standards, for that would be to exempt 
it from judgment. Nothing — not even 
a German — can be judged by his — 
or its — own standard. If there is to be 
any standard at all, it must be based on 
comparison. Keen thoughts and vivid 
words have their value, no matter in 
what form they are presented; but un- 
less that form be poetical, the presenta- 
tion is not poetry. There is a world of 
truth in Mr. Masters's brief and bitter 
lines: 

" Beware of the man who rises to power 
From one suspender." 

It has the kind of sagacity which is em- 
bodied in the old adage, "You cannot 
make a silk purse out of a sow's ear," 
and it is as remote from the require- 
ments of prosody. 

92 



Conservative's Consolations 

The medium employed by Walt 
WTiitman, at times rhythmic and ca- 
denced, at times ungirt and sagging 
loosely, enabled him to write passages 
of sustained beauty, passages grandly 
conceived and felicitously rendered. It 
also permitted him a riotous and some- 
what monotonous excess. Every word 
misused revenges itself forever upon a 
writer's reputation. The medium em- 
ployed by the unshackled poets of to- 
day is capable of vivid and accurate 
imagery. It has aroused — or revealed 
— habits of observation. It paints pen- 
pictures cleverly. In the hands of 
French, British, and American experts, 
it shows sobriety, and a clear conscious- 
ness of purpose. But it is useless to 
deny that the inexpert find it perilously 
easy. The barriers which protect an or- 
dinary four-lined stanza are not hard 
to scale; but they do exist, and they 
sometimes bring the versifier to a halt. 
Without them, nothing brings him to 
93 



Points of Friction 

a halt, save the limits of the space 
allotted by grudging newspapers and 
periodicals. 

Yet brevity is the soul of song, no 
less than the soul of wit. Those lovely 
lyrics, swift as the note of a bird on the 
wing, imperishable as a jewel, haunting 
as unforgotten melody, are the fruits 
of artifice no less than of inspiration. In 
eight short lines, Landor gave "Rose 
Aylmer" to an entranced and forever 
listening world. There is magic in the 
art that made those eight lines final. 
A writer of what has been cynically 
called "socialized poetry" would have 
spent the night of "memories and sighs " 
in probing and specifying his emotions. 

The conservative's inheritance from 
the radical's lightly rejected yester- 
days gives him ground to stand on, and 
a simplified point of view. In that very 
engaging ' volume, "The Education of 
Henry Adams, " the autobiographer tells 
us in one breath how much he desires 
94 



Conservative's Consolations 

change, and, in the next, how much he 
resents it. He would Hke to upset an al- 
ready upset world, but he would also 
like to keep the Pope in the Vatican, 
and the Queen in Windsor Castle. He 
feels that by right he should have been 
a Marxist, but the last thing he wants 
to see is a transformed Europe. The be- 
wildered reader might be pardoned for 
losing himself in this labyrinth of uncer- 
tainties, were it not for an enlightening 
paragraph in which the author expresses 
unqualified amazement at Motley's keen 
enjoyment of London society. 

"The men of whom Motley must have 
been thinking were such as he might 
meet at Lord Houghton's breakfasts: 
Grote, Jowett, Milman, or Froude; 
Browning, Matthew Arnold, or Swin- 
burne; Bishop Wilberforce, Venables, 
or Hayward; or perhaps Gladstone, 
Robert Lowe, or Lord Granville. . . . 
Within the narrow limits of this class 
the American Legation was fairly at 
95 



Points of Friction 

home; possibly a score of houses, all lib- 
eral and all literary, but perfect only in 
the eyes of a Harvard College historian. 
They could teach little worth knowing, 
for their tastes were antiquated, and 
their knowledge was ignorance to the 
next generation. What was altogether 
fatal for future purpose, they were only 
English." 

Apart from the delightful conception 
of the author of " Culture and Anarchy," 
and the author of "Atalanta in Caly- 
don," as " only English," the pleasure the 
conservative reader takes in this per- 
emptory estimate is the pleasure of pos- 
session. To him belongs the ignorance of 
Jowett and Grote, to him the obsolete- 
ness of Browning. From every one of 
these discarded luminaries some light 
falls on his path. In fact, a flash of 
blinding light was vouchsafed to Mr. 
Adams, when he and Swinburne were 
guests in the house of Monckton Milnes. 
Swinburne was passionately praising 
96 



Conservative's Consolations 

the god of his idolatry, Victor Hugo; 
and the young American, who knew 
little and cared less about French poetry, 
ventured in a half-hearted fashion to 
assert the counter-claims of Alfred de 
Musset. Swinburne listened impatiently, 
and brushed aside the comparison with 
a trenchant word: "De Musset did not 
sustain himself on the wing." 

If a bit of flawless criticism from an 
expert's lips be not educational, then 
there is nothing to be taught or learned 
in the world. Of the making of books 
there is no end; but now as ever the 
talker strikes the light, now as ever 
conversation is the appointed medium 
of intelligence and taste. 

It is well that the past yields some 
solace to the temperamental conserva- 
tive, for the present is his only on terms 
he cannot easily fulfil. His reasonable 
doubts and his unreasonable prejudices 
block the path of contentment. He is 
powerless to believe a thing because it is 
97 



Points of Friction 

an eminently desirable thing to believe. 
He is powerless to deny the existence of 
facts he does not like. He is powerless to 
credit new systems with finality. The 
sanguine assurance that men and na- 
tions can be legislated into goodness, 
that pressure from without is equiva- 
lent to a moral change within, needs a 
strong backing of inexperience. "The 
will," says Francis Thompson, "is the 
lynch-pin of the faculties." We stand or 
fall by its strength or its infirmity. Where 
there is no temptation, there is no vir- 
tue. Parental legislation for the benefit 
of the weak leaves them as weak as 
ever, and denies to the strong the birth- 
right of independence, the hard, resist- 
ant manliness with which they work 
out their salvation. They may go to 
heaven in leading-strings, but they can- 
not conquer Apollyon on the way. 

The well-meant despotism of the re- 
former accomplishes some glittering re- 
sults, but it arrests the slow progress of 
98 



Conservative's Consolations 

civilization, which cannot afford to be 
despotic. Mr. Bagehot, whose cynicism 
held the wisdom of restraint, main- 
tained that the "cake of custom " should 
be stiff enough to make change of any- 
kind difficult, but never so stiff as 
to make it impossible. The progress 
achieved under these conditions would 
be, he thought, both durable and en- 
durable. "Without a long-accumulated 
and inherited tendency to discourage 
originality, society would never have 
gained the cohesion requisite for ef- 
fecting common action against its ex- 
ternal foes." Deference to usage is a 
uniting and sustaining bond. Nations 
which reject it are apt to get off the 
track, and have to get back, or be put 
back, with difficulty and disaster. They 
do not afford desirable dwelling-places 
for thoughtful human beings, but they 
give notable lessons to humanity. In- 
novations to which we are not commit- 
ted are illuminating things. 
99 



Points of Friction 

If the principles of conservatism are 
based on firm supports, on a recogni- 
tion of values, a sense of measure and 
proportion, a due regard for order, — 
its prejudices are indefensible. The 
wise conservative does not attempt to 
defend them; he only clings to them 
more lovingly under attack. He recog- 
nizes triumphant science in the tele- 
phone and the talking machine, and his 
wish to escape these benefactions is but 
a humble confession of unworthiness. 
He would be glad if scientists, hitherto 
occupied with preserving and dissemi- 
nating sound, would turn their attention 
to suppressing it, would collect noise as 
an ashman collects rubbish, and dump 
it in some lonely place, thus preserving 
the sanity of the world. He agrees with 
Mr. Edward Martin (who bears the 
hall-mark of the caste) that periodicals 
run primarily for advertisers, and sec- 
ondarily for readers, are worthy of re- 
gard, and that only the tyranny of 

100 



Conservative's Consolations 

habit makes him revolt from so nice an 
adjustment of interests. WTiy, after all, 
should he balk at pursuing a story, or 
an article on "Ballads and Folk-Songs 
of the Letts," between columns of well- 
illustrated advertisements? VVhy should 
he refuse to leap from chasm to chasm, 
from the intimacies of underwear to 
electrical substitutes for all the arts of 
living? There is no hardship involved 
in the chase, and the trail is carefully 
blazed. Yet the chances are that he 
abandons the Letts, reminding himself 
morosely that three years ago he was 
but dimly aware of their existence ; and 
their "rich vein of traditional imagery," 
to say nothing of their early edition of 
Luther's catechism, fades from his in- 
tellectual horizon. 

If we are too stiff to adjust ourselves 
to changed conditions, we are bound to 
play a losing game. Yet the moral ele- 
ment in taste survives all change, and 
denies to us a ready acquiescence in 

lOI 



Points of Friction 

innovations whose only merit is their 
practicality. Through the reeling years 
of war, the standard set by taste re- 
mained a test of civilization. In these 
formidable years of peace, racked by 
anxieties and shadowed by disillusions 
(Franklin's ironic witticism concerning 
the blessedness of peace-makers was 
never more applicable than to-day), 
the austerity of taste preserves our 
self-respect. We are under no individual 
obligation to add to the wealth of na- 
tions. It is sometimes a pleasant duty 
to resist the pervasive pressure of the 
business world. 

Political conservatism may be a lost 
cause in modern democracy; but tem- 
peramental conservatism dates from 
the birth of man's reasoning . powers, 
and will survive the clamour and chaos 
of revolutions. It may rechristen its 
political platform, but the animating 
spirit will be unchanged. As a matter of 
fact, great conservatives have always 

102 



Conservative's Consolations 

been found in the liberal ranks, and 
Tory Cassandras, who called them- 
selves radicals, have prophesied with 
dismal exactitude. It was a clear-eyed, 
clear-voiced Socialist who, eight years 
before the war, warned British Social- 
ists that they would do well to sound 
the temper of German Socialists before 
agitating for a reduction of the British 
navy. M. Paul Deschanel says of the 
French that they have revolutionary 
imaginations and conservative tempera- 
ments. An English critic has used nearly 
the same terms in defining the elemental 
principles of civilization, — conserva- 
tism of technique and spiritual rest- 
lessness. It is the fate of man to do his 
own thinking, and thinking is subver- 
sive of content; but a sane regard for 
equilibrium is his inheritance from the 
travail of centuries. He sees far who 
looks both ways. He journeys far who 
treads a known track. 

Resistance, which is the function of 
103 



Points of Friction 

conservatism, is essential to orderly ad- 
vance. It is a force in the social and 
political, as well as in the natural order. 
A party of progress, a party of stability, 

— call them by what names we please, 

— they will play their roles to the end. 
The hopefulness of the reformer (Savo- 
narola's bonfire of vanities is an historic 
precedent for Hawthorne's allegory) is 
balanced by the patience of the con- 
servative, which has survived the dis- 
appointments of time, and is not yet 
exhausted. He at least knows that "the 
chief parts of human doom and duty 
are eternal," and that the things which 
can change are not the things essential 
to the support of his soul. We stand at 
the door of a new day, and are sanguine 
or affrighted according to our tempera- 
ments; but this day shall be transient 
as the days which have preceded it, and, 
like its predecessors, shall plead for 
understanding and pardon before the 
bar of history. 



The Cheerful Clan 

NOW that the Great War is a thing 
of the past, there is no longer any 
need to be cheerful. For years a valor- 
ous gaiety has been the role assigned 
us. For years we struck a hopeful note, 
whether it rang true or false. For years 
the plight of the world was so desperate 
that we dared not look straight ahead, 
lest the spectre of a triumphant Ger- 
many smite us blind. Confronted with 
a ruthlessness which threatened to ex- 
tinguish the liberties and decencies of 
civilization, we simply had to cast about 
us for a wan smile to hide from appre- 
hensive eyes the trouble of our souls. 

Now the beast of militarism has been 
chained, and until it is strong enough 
to break its fetters (which should be a 
matter of years), we can breathe freely, 
and try and heal our hurt. True, there is 
105 



Points of Friction 

trouble enough on every side to stock a 
dozen worlds. The beauty of France has 
been unspeakably defiled. The butcher- 
ies in Belgium scarred the nation's soul. 
The flower of British youth have per- 
ished. Italy's gaping wounds have fes- 
tered under a grievous sense of wrong. 
Russia seethes with hatred and strife. 
In the United States we see on one hand 
a mad welter of lawlessness, idleness, 
and greed; and, on the other, official 
extravagance, administrative weakness, 
a heavy, ill-adjusted burden of taxation, 
and shameless profiteering. Our equi- 
librium is lost, and with it our sense of 
proportion. We are Lilliput and Brob- 
dingnag jumbled up together, which is 
worse than anything Gulliver ever en- 
countered. 

But this displacement of balance, this 
unruly selfishness, is but the inevitable 
result of the world's great upheaval. It 
represents the human rebound from 
high emotions and heavy sacrifices. The 
1 06 



r 



The Cheerful Clan 

emotions and the sacrifices have met 
their reward. Germany cannot — for 
some time to come — spring at our 
throat. If we fail to readjust our indus- 
tries on a paying basis, we shall of course 
go under, and lose the leadership of the 
world. But we won't be kicked under by 
the Prussian boot. 

Therefore cheerfulness is no longer 
obligatory. We can shut the door in the 
faces of its professional purveyors — 
who have been making a good thing of 
it — and look with restful seriousness 
upon the mutability of life. Our intelli- 
gence, so long insulted by the senti- 
mental inconsistencies which are the 
text of the Gospel of Gladness, can 
assert its right of rejection. The Sun- 
shine School of writers has done its 
worst, and the fixed smile with which it 
regards the universe is as offensive as 
the fixed smile of chorus girls and col- 
lege presidents, of debutantes and high 
officials, who are photographed for the 
107 



Points of Friction 

Sunday press, and who all look like 
advertisements of dentifrice. 

Popular optimism — the kind which 
is hawked about like shoe-strings — is 
the apotheosis of superficiality. The ob- 
vious is its support, the inane is its 
ornament. Consider the mental attitude 
of a writer who does not hesitate to say 
in a perfectly good periodical, which 
does not hesitate to publish his words: 
"Nothing makes a man happier than to 
know that he is of use to his own time." 
Only in a sunburst of cheerfulness could 
such a naked truism be shamelessly ex- 
posed. I can remember that, when 1 was 
a child, statements of this order were 
engraved in neat script on the top line 
of our copy-books. But it was under- 
stood that their value lay in their chi- 
rography, in the unapproachable per- 
fection of every letter, not in the mes- 
sage they conveyed. Our infant minds 
were never outraged by seeing them in 
printed text. Those were serious and 
1 08 



The Cheerful Clan 

self-respecting days when no one sent 
our mothers a calendar with three hun- 
dred and sixty-five words of cheer, de- 
signed to jack up the lowered morale of 
the family. The missionary spirit was 
at work then as now; but it mostly 
dropped tracts on our doorstep, remind- 
ing us that we might be in hell before 
to-morrow morning. 

The gaiety of life is a saving grace, 
and high spirits are more than the ap- 
panage of youth. They represent the 
rebound of the resilient soul from moods 
of dejection, and it is their transient 
character which makes them so infec- 
tious. Landor's line, 

"That word, that sad word, Joy," 
is manifestly unfair. Joy is a delightful, 
flashing little word, as brief as is the 
emotion it conveys. We all know what 
it means, but nobody dares to preach 
it, as they preach three-syllabled cheer- 
fulness, and gladness which once had a 
heroic sound, the "gladness that hath 
109 



Points of Friction 

favour with God," but which is now 
perilously close to slang. The early 
Christians, who had on a large scale the 
courage of their convictions, found in 
their faith sufficient warrant for content. 
They seem to have lived and died with 
a serenity, a perfect good humour, which 
is the highest result of the best educa- 
tion. But when Mr. Shaw attempted to 
elucidate in "Androcles and the Lion" 
this difficult and delicate conception, he 
peopled his stage with Pollyannas, who 
voiced their cheerfulness so clamorously 
that they made persecution pardonable. 
No public could be expected to endure 
such talk when it had an easy method 
of getting rid of the talkers. 

The leniency of the law now leaves us 
without escape. We cannot throw our 
smiling neighbours to the lions, and they 
override us in what seems to me a spirit 
of cowardly exultation. Female optimists 
write insufferable papers on "Happy 
Hours for Old Ladies," and male opti- 

IIO 



The Cheerful Clan 

mists write delusive papers on "Happi- 
ness as a Business Asset." Reforming 
optimists who, ten years ago, bade us 
rejoice over the elimination of war, — 
"save on the outskirts of civilization," 
now bid us rejoice over the elimina- 
tion of alcohol, — save on the tables of 
the rich. Old-fashioned optimists, like 
Mr. Horace Fletcher, put faith in the 
"benevolent intentions" of nature, — 
nature busy with the scorpion's tail. 
New-fashioned optimists, like Professor 
Ralph Barton Perry (who may not 
know how optimistic he is), put faith in 
the mistrust of nature which has armed 
the hands of men. Sentimental opti- 
mists, the most perv^asive of the tribe, 
blur the fine outlines of life, to see which 
clearly and bravely is the imperative 
business of man's soul. 

For the world of thought is not one 

whit more tranquil than the world of 

action. The man whose "mind to him a 

kingdom is" wears his crown with as 

III 



Points of Friction 

much uneasiness as does a reigning 
monarch. Giordano Bruno, who had 
troubles of his own, and who knew 
by what road they came, commended 
ignorance as a safeguard from melan- 
choly. If, disregarding this avenue of 
escape, we look with understanding, 
and sometimes even with exhilaration, 
upon the portentous spectacle of life, 
if we have tempers so flawless that we 
can hold bad hands and still enjoy the 
game, then, with the sportsman's relish, 
will come the sportsman's reward; a 
reward, be it remembered, which is in 
the effort only, and has little to do with 
results. 

"II faut chanter! chanter, mSme en sachant 
Qu'il existe des chants qu'on pr^f^re ci son chant." 

The generous illusions which noble 
souls like Emerson's have cherished un- 
dismayed are ill-fitted for loose han- 
dling. Good may be the final goal of evil, 
but if we regard evil with a too sanguine 
eye, it is liable to be thrown out of per- 

112 



The Cheerful Clan 

spective. In the spring of 1916, when 
the dark days of the war were upon us, 
and the toll of merchant ships grew 
heavier week by week with Germany's 
mounting contempt for admonitions, I 
heard a beaming gentleman point out to 
a large audience, which tried to beam 
responsively, that the "wonderful" 
thing about the contest was the unselfish 
energy it had awakened in the breasts 
of American women. He dwelt unctu- 
ously upon their relief committees, upon 
the excellence of their hospital supplies, 
upon their noble response to the needs 
of humanity. He repeated a great many 
times how good it was for us to do these 
things. He implied, though he did not 
say it in rude words, that the agony of 
Europe was nicely balanced by the 
social regeneration of America. He was 
a sentimental Rochefoucauld, rejoicing, 
without a particle of guile, that the mis- 
fortunes of our friends had given us 
occasion to manifest our friendship. 
113 



Points of Friction 

It has been often asserted that un- 
scrupulous optimism is an endearing 
trait, that the world loves it even when 
forced to discountenance it, and that 
"radiant" people are personally and 
perennially attractive. Mr. Robert Louis 
Stevenson said something of this sort, 
and his authority is invoked by senti- 
mentalists who compile calendars, and 
birthday books, and texts to encumber 
our walls. They fail to distinguish the 
finely tempered spirit which carried 
Mr. Stevenson over the stony places of 
life, and which was beautiful beyond 
measure (the stones being many and 
hard), from the inconsequent cheerful- 
ness which says that stones are soft. 
We cannot separate an author from his 
work, and nowhere in Stevenson's books 
does he guarantee anything more opti- 
mistic than courage. The triumph of evil 
in "Thrawn Janet," the hopelessness 
of escape from heredity in "Olalla," 
the shut door in " Markheim," the stem 
114 



The Cheerful Clan 

contempt in "A Lodging for the Night," 
the inextinguishable and unpardonable 
hatreds in "The Master of Ballantrae," 
even the glorious contentiousness of 
"Virginibus Puerisque," — where in 
these masterful pages are we invited to 
smile at life? We go spinning through it, 
he admits, " like a party for the Derby." 
Yet "the whole way is one wilderness of 
snares, and the end of it, for those who 
fear the last pinch, is irrevocable ruin." 
This is a call for courage, for the cour- 
age that lay as deep as pain in the souls 
of Stevenson, and Johnson, and Lamb. 
The combination of a sad heart and a 
gay temper, which is the most charming 
and the most lovable thing the world 
has got to show, gave to these men their 
hold upon the friends who knew them in 
life, and still wins for them the personal 
regard of readers. Lamb, the saddest 
and the gayest of the three, cultivated 
sedulously the little arts of happiness. 
He opened all the avenues of approach. 
115 



Points of Friction 

He valued at their worth a good play, a 
good book, a good talk, and a good din- 
ner. He lived in days when occasional 
drunkenness failed to stagger human- 
ity, and when roast pig was within the 
income of an East India clerk. He had a 
gift, subtle rather than robust, for en- 
joyment, and a sincere accessibility to 
pain. His words were unsparing, his ac- 
tions kind. He binds us to him by his 
petulance as well as by his patience, by 
his entirely human revolt from dull 
people and tiresome happenings. He 
was not one of those who 

"lightly lose 
Their all, yet feel no aching void. 
Should aught annoy them, they refuse 
To be annoyed." 

On the contrary, the whimsical expres- 
sion of his repeated annoyance is balm 
to our fretted souls. 

For the friend whom we love is the 
friend who gets wet when he is rained 
on, who is candid enough to admit fail- 
ii6 



The Cheerful Clan 

ure, and courageous enough to mock at 
it. WTien Jane Austen wrote to her sister 
that she did not have a very good time 
at a party, because men were disposed 
not to ask her to dance until they could 
not help it, she did more than make 
Cassandra smile; she won her way into 
the hearts of readers for whom that let- 
ter was not meant. We know the "radi- 
ant" people to whom all occasions are 
enjoyable, who intimate — with some 
skill, I confess — that they carry mirth 
and gaiety in their wake. They are 
capable of describing a Thanksgiving 
family dinner as mirthful because they 
were participants. Not content with a 
general profession of pleasure in liv- 
ing, "which is all," says Mr. Henry 
Adams, "that the highest rules of good 
breeding should ask," they insist upon 
the delightfulness of a downcast world, 
and they offer their personal sentiments 
as proof. 

Dr. Johnson's sputtering rage at the 
117 



Points of Friction 

happy old lady is the most human thing 
recorded of his large and many-sided 
humanity. A great thinker who con- 
fronted life with courage and under- 
standing was set at naught, and, to 
speak truth, routed, by an unthinking, 
but extremely solid, asseveration. And 
after all the old lady was not calling for 
recruits ; she was simply stating a case. 
Miss Helen Keller, in a book called 
"Optimism," says very plainly that if 
she, a blind deaf mute, can be happy, 
every one can achieve happiness, and 
that it is every one's duty to achieve it. 
Now there is not a decent man or woman 
in the country who will not be glad to 
know that Miss Keller is, as she says 
she is, happy; but this circumstance 
does not affect the conditions of life as 
measured by all who meet them. The 
whole strength of the preaching world 
has gone into optimism, with the result 
that it has reached a high place in man's 
estimation, is always spoken of with 
Ii8 



The Cheerful Clan ^ 

respect, and not infrequently mistaken 
for a virtue. 

Are we then so sunk in dejection, so 
remote from the splendid and uncon- 
scious joy which the struggle for life 
gave to the centuries that are over? 
Time was when men needed the curb, 
and not the spur, in that valorous con- 
tention. "How high the sea of human 
delight rose in the Middle Ages," says 
Mr. jChesterton, "we know only by the 
colossal walls they built to keep it 
within bounds." Optimism was as super- 
fluous as meliorism when the world was 
in love with living, when Christianity 
preached penance and atonement for 
sin, striving by golden promises and 
direful threats to wean man from that 
unblessed passion, to turn the strong 
tide of his nature back from the earth 
that nourished it. There was never but 
one thorough-going optimist among the 
Fathers of the Church, and that was 
Origen, who looked forward confidently 
119 



Points of Friction 

to the final conversion of Satan. His 
attitude was full of nobleness because 
he had suffered grievously at the hea- 
then's hands; but not even by the 
alchemy of compassion is evil trans- 
mutable to good. 

The Stoics, who proposed that men 
should practise virtue without com- 
pensation, were logically unassailable, 
but not persuasive to the average mind. 
It does not take much perspicuity to 
distinguish between an agreeable and a 
disagreeable happening, and once the 
difference is perceived, no argument can 
make them equally acceptable. "Play- 
ing at mummers is one thing," says the 
sapient tanner in Kenneth Grahame's 
"Headswoman," "and being executed 
is another. Folks ought to keep them 
separate." On the other hand, the assur- 
ance of the Epicureans that goodness 
and temperance were of value because 
they conduced to content was liable to 
be set aside by the man who found him- 

I20 



The Cheerful Clan 

self contented without them. "The poor 
world, to do it justice," says Gilbert 
Murray, "has never lent itself to any 
such bare-faced deception as the opti- 
mism of the Stoics" ; but neither are we 
disposed to recognize enlightened self- 
interest as a spiritual agency. It may 
perhaps be trusted to make a good hus- 
band or a good vestryman, but not a 
good human being. 

A highly rational optimist, deter- 
mined to be logical at any cost, observed 
recently in a British review that sym- 
pathy was an invasion of liberty. "If 
I must sorrow because another is sor- 
rowing, I am a slave to my feelings, and 
it is best that I shall be slave to nothing. 
Perfect freedom means that I am able 
to follow my own will, and my will is 
to be happy rather than to be sad. I love 
pleasure rather than pain. Therefore if 
I am moved to sorrow against my will, 
I am enslaved by my sympathy." 

This is an impregnable position. It is 

121 



Points of Friction 

the old, old philosophy of the cold heart 
and the warm stomach. I do not say 
that it is unwise. I say only that it is 
unlikable. 

For our quarrel with Christian Sci- 
ence is, not that it prefers Mrs. Eddy to 
-^sculapius, or her practitioners to his 
practitioners; not that it sometimes 
shames us by rising superbly above our 
froward nerves, and on less happy oc- 
casions denies the existence of a cold 
which is intruding itself grossly upon 
the senses; but that it exempts its fol- 
lowers from legitimate pity and grief. 
Only by refusing such exemption can 
we play our whole parts in the world. 
While there is a wrong done, we must 
admit some measure of defeat; while 
there is a pang suffered, we have no 
right to unflawed serenity. To cheat 
ourselves intellectually that we may 
save ourselves spiritually is unworthy 
of the creature that man is meant 
to be. 

122 



The Cheerful Clan 

And to what end ! Things are as they 
are, and no amount of self-deception 
makes them othenvise. The friend who 
is incapable of depression ' depresses us 
as surely as the friend who is incapable 
of boredom bores us. Somewhere in our 
hearts is a strong, though dimly under- 
stood, desire to face realities, and to 
measure consequences, to have done 
with the fatigue of pretending. It is not 
optimism to enjoy the view when one is 
treed by a bull; it is philosophy. The 
optimist would say that being treed was 
a valuable experience. The disciple of 
gladness would say it was a pleasurable 
sensation. The Christian Scientist would 
say there was no bull, though remain- 
ing — if he were wise — on the tree- 
top. The philosopher would make the 
best of a bad job, and seek what com- 
pensation he could find. He is of a class 
apart. 

If, as scientists assert, fear is the note 
which runs through the universe, cour- 
123 



Points of Friction 

age is the unconquerable beat of man's 
heart. A "wise sad valour" won the 
war at a cost we do well to remember; 
and from unnumbered graves comes a 
stem reminder that the world can hold 
wrongs which call for such a righting. 
We for whom life has been made, not 
safe, but worth the living, can now 
afford "le bel s^rieux" which befits the 
time and occasion. When preachers 
cease pointing out to us inaccessible 
routes to happiness, we may stop the 
chase long enough to let her softly over- 
take us. When the G6spellers of Glad- 
ness free us of their importunities, our 
exhausted spirits may yet revive to 
secret hours of mirth. When we frankly 
abandon an attitude of cheerfulness, our 
Malvolio smile may break into sudden 
peals of laughter. What have we gained 
from the past seven years if not zest for 
the difficulties and dangers ahead of us? 
What lesson have we learned but in- 
trepidity? The noble Greek lines upon 
124 



The Cheerful Clan 

a drowned seaman sound in our ears, 
and steady us to action: 

"A shipwrecked sailor, buried on this coast, J 
Bids you set sail. 
Full many a gallant bark, when he was lost. 
Weathered the gale." 



The Beloved Sinner 

ALL the world does not love a lover. 
It is a cultivated taste, alien to the 
natural man, and unknown to child- 
hood. But all the world does love a sin- 
ner, either because he is convertible to a 
saint, or because a taste for law-break- 
ing is an inheritance from our first 
parents, who broke the one and only 
law imposed upon them. The little 
children whom Fra Lippo Lippi sees 
standing in a "row of admiration" 
around the murderer on the altar step 
express their innocent interest in crime. 
Bayard, "sans peur et sans reproche," 
has never stirred the heart of youth as 
has Robin Hood, that bold outlaw who 
"beat and bound" unpopular sheriffs, 
and "readjusted the distribution of 
property," — delightful phrase, as old 
as the world, and as fresh as to-morrow 
126 



The Beloved Sinner 

morning. The terrible and undeserved 
epithet, "blameless," has robbed great 
Arthur of his just meed of homage. The 
"Master Thief" enjoyed, and still en- 
joys, unmerited popularity. 

I sometimes wonder what a man con- 
scious of talent, like the Master Thief, 
would have thought if the simple crimi- 
nologists of his day — who laiew no sub- 
tler remedy than hanging — had con- 
fronted him with clinics, and labora- 
tories, and pamphlets on the "disease 
of crime." I sometimes wonder how his 
able descendants, like the humorous 
rogues who stole the gold cup at As- 
cot; or the wag who slipped the stolen 
purses (emptied of their contents) into 
the pocket of the Bishop of Lincoln; 
or" the redoubtable Raymond — alias 
Wirth — who stole a shipping of Kim- 
berley diamonds and a Gainsborough 
portrait, feel about their pathological 
needs. "The criminal is a sick man, the 
prison is his hospital, and the judge who 
127 



Points of Friction 

sentenced him is his physician," said 
Dr. Vaughan, dean of the Medical School 
in the University of Michigan. "Does a 
hunting man give up riding to hounds 
because he has had a fall?" asked a 
stalwart "invalid," serving a sentence 
for burglary, of the chaplain who had 
urged upon him the security of an honest 
life. 

It is always animating to hear the 
convict's point of view. In fact, every- 
thing appertaining to criminology in- 
terests us as deeply as everything 
appertaining to pauperism bores and re- 
pels us. Some years ago the " Nineteenth 
Century" offered its pages as a debat- 
ing-ground for this absorbing theme. 
Arguments were presented by Sir Alfred 
Wills, a judge of twenty-one years* 
standing, Sir Robert Anderson, author 
of "Criminals and Crime," and Mr. 
H. J. B. Montgomery, an ex-convict and 
a fluent writer, albeit somewhat super- 
cilious as befitted his estate. He took the ^ 
128 



The Beloved Sinner 

bold and popular stand that society has 
created the criminal class, that its mem- 
bers detest the crimes they commit with 
such apparent zest, and that they 
should be "tended and cheered" in- 
stead of subjected to the "extreme 
stupidity" of prison life. Indeterminate 
sentences which carry with them an ele- 
ment of hope, and which should be an 
incentive to reform because they imply 
its possibility, he condemned without 
reserve as putting a premium on hypoc- 
risy. But the point which of all others 
aroused his just resentment was the de- 
mand made by the two jurists for resti- 
tution. 

This is the crux of a situation which 
in the moral law is simplicity itself ; but 
which the evasiveness of the civil law 
has unduly complicated, and which the 
random humanitarianism of our day 
has buried out of sight. Every crime is 
an offence against the State. It is also in 
ninety-nine cases out of a hundred an 
129 



Points of Friction 

offence against a fellow-creature, which 
fellow-creature is called a victim, and 
interests nobody. Sir Alfred Wills and 
Sir Robert Anderson both held that 
thieves, big thieves especially, should 
be compelled to say what disposition 
had been made of stolen property, and 
that they should be imprisoned for life 
if they refused. Anderson was firm in 
his insistence that the act of thieving 
alienates such property actually, but not 
legally or morally, from its owner, and 
that serving a sentence for robbery does 
not clear the robber's title to the goods. 
He also pointed out that the most heart- 
less thefts are committed daily at the 
expense of people in decent but narrow 
circumstances, because such people are 
compelled to leave their homes un- 
protected. He instanced the case of one 
woman robbed of her scanty savings, 
and of another who lost her dead soldier 
husband's medals, and the few poor 
cherished trinkets he had given her. 
130 



The Beloved Sinner 

In the matter of restitution, Mr. 
Montgomery stood fairly and squarely 
for the felon's rights. "The law," he said, 
"has nothing to do, and ought to have 
nothing to do, with the disposal of the 
booty"; and he was happy in the con- 
viction that it would never go so far as 
to deprive the thief of the reward of his 
labour, of the money stolen by the 
sweat of his brow. As for staying in jail 
until such restitution was made, that 
was as ridiculous as the suggestion 
sometimes offered that the convict's 
wages should be paid over to the man 
he has robbed. Nobody cares about a 
man who has been robbed. The interest 
felt in the criminal extends itself occa- 
sionally to the criminal's family, but 
never to the family he has wronged. In 
the United States where robbery is the 
order of the day, there is n't sympathy 
enough to go 'round among the many 
who play a losing game. Chicago alone 
boasts a record of one hundred and 
131 



Points of Friction 

seventy-five hold-ups in two nights, an 
amazing tribute to industry and zeal. 
Many of the victims were stripped of 
their coats as well as of their valuables, 
there being plenty of time, and no need 
on the thieves' part for hurry or dis- 
order. The Chicago Crimes Commission 
put the case with commendable brevity 
when it said, "Crime is a business here." 
An interesting circumstance recorded 
in Anderson's volume is the reluctance 
of professional burglars to ply their 
craft on very cold and stormy nights. 
It would seem as though bad weather 
might be trusted to stand their friend; 
but the burglar, a luxury-loving person, 
dislikes being drenched or frozen as 
much as does his honest neighbour. 
Happily for his comfort and for his 
health, a high-speed motor now enables 
him to work on sunny days at noon. It 
is pleasant to reflect that the experts 
who robbed three Philadelphia jewellers 
at an hour when the shops were full of 
132 



The Beloved Sinner 

customers, and the streets were full of 
pedestrians, ran no risk from exptosure. 
They may have been sick men from the 
psychologist's point of view, but they 
were as safe from bronchitis as they 
were from the Philadelphia police. 

It is an ^e of specialism, and the 
criminal, like the scientist, has special- 
ized. Stealing Liberty Bonds is a field full 
of promise for youth. Apparently noth- 
ing can shake the confidence of brokers 
in the messengers who disappear with 
one lot of bonds, only to be released on a 
suspended sentence, and speedily en- 
trusted with a second. The term "juve- 
nile delinquency" has been stretched 
to cover every offence from murder 
to missing school. A fourteen-year-old 
girl who poisoned a fourteen-month-old 
baby in Brooklyn, in the summer of 19 19, 
and who was tried in the Children's Court, 
was found guilty of juvenile delinquency, 
and committed to a home for delinquent 
girls. It is hard to say what else could 
133 



Points of Friction 

have been done with a murderess of 
such tender years; but the New York 
authorities should see to it that Solomon 
Kramer is the last baby whom Frances 
Sulinski kills. She poisoned this one 
with the single purpose of implicating 
in the crime a woman of seventy with 
whom she had quarrelled. The poor in- 
fant lingered in pain twenty-four hours 
before released by death. It is not easy 
to throw a kindly light upon the deed; 
and while a baby's life is of small value 
to the State ("as well be drowned as 
grow up a tinker," said Sir Walter 
Scott), civilization means that it has a 
right to protection. The law exists, not 
for the punishment of the offender, and 
not for his reformation, but that the 
public may be safe from his hands. 

A robust sense of humour might help 
to straighten out the tangles which have 
deranged the simple processes of juris- 
diction. When the court rendered a 
decision freeing the prison authorities 
134 



The Beloved Sinner 

of Tacoma from all responsibility in the 
event of a hunger strike, a light dawned 
on that stricken town. The I.W.W., 
who had refused to eat because they 
objected to being detained in the county, 
instead of in the city, jail, were accorded 
liberty to follow their desires. A threat 
v/hich for years had sufficed to throw 
British and American prisons into con- 
sternation was suddenly found to be 
harmless to all but the threateners. 
What really agitated the citizens of 
Tacoma just then was, not so much 
whether demagogues would consent to 
eat the food provided for them, as 
whether honest men could afford food 
to eat. 

A comic opera might be staged with 
Ellis Island as a mise en scene. The 
seventy- three "reds," detained on that 
asylum as undesirables, who sent an 
"ultimatum," modelled on the Berlin 
pattern, to the Congressional Commit- 
tee, would have charmed Gilbert and 
135 



Points of Friction 

inspired Sullivan. The solemnity with 
which they notified the indifferent Con- 
gressmen that at half-past eight o 'clock, 
Tuesday morning, November 25th, 
1 9 19, they would declare a hunger 
strike, the consequences of which "shall 
fall upon the head of the administration 
of the island," was surpassed by the 
calmness with which they gave warning 
that they would no longer attend the 
hearings of the committee. Like the 
heroine of Mr. Davidson's ballad, who 
told the Devil she would not stay in 
hell, these gentlemen registered them- 
selves as outside the pale of coercion. 
They seemed to think that by refusing 
to eat, they could bend the law to their 
will, and that by refusing to have their 
cases heard, they could stop the slow 
process of deportation. 

It is painful to record this lack of 

healthy humour on the part of political 

offenders. Ordinary criminals are as a 

rule neat hands at a joke, a practical 

136 



The Beloved Sinner 

joke especially, and convicts respond 
alacritously to all intelligent efforts 
to amuse them. Comedians, who from 
time to time have offered their services 
to relieve the sad monotony of prison 
life, have found their audiences alert and 
responsive. Not a joke is lost, not a song 
or a skit but wins its way to favour. It is 
this engaging receptiveness which has 
made our captive thieves and cut- 
throats so dear to the public heart. 
They dilate with correct emotions when 
they hear good music; and, in the dearth 
of other diversions, they can produce 
very creditable entertainments of their 
own. The great Sing Sing pageant in 
honour of Warden Osborne was full of 
fun and fancy. It would have done 
credit to the dramatic talent of any 
college in the land. No wonder that we 
detect a certain ostentation in the 
claims made by honest men to familiar- 
ity with rogues. The Honourable T. P. 
O 'Connor published a few years ago a 
137 



Points of Friction 

series of papers with the arrogant title, 
"Criminals I Have Known." Could he 
have attracted readers by boasting the 
acquaintanceship of any other class of 
fellow-creatures ? 

The sourness incidental to a grievance 
deprives the political offender of this 
winning vivacity. He is lamentably 
high-flown in his language, and he has 
no sense of the ridiculous. The Sinn 
Feiners who wrecked the office of a 
Dublin newspaper because it had al- 
luded to one of the men who tried to kill 
Lord French as a "would-be assassin," 
should expend some of the money re- 
ceived from the United States (in return 
for stoning our sailors in Cork and 
Queenstown) in the purchase of a dic- 
tionary. "Assassin" is as good a word 
as "murderer" any day of the week, 
and a "would-be assassin" is no other 
than a "would-be murderer." The Sinn 
Feiners explained In a letter to the edi- 
tor that the calumniated man was really 
138 



The Beloved Sinner 

a " high-souled youth," but this goes 
without the saying. All political offend- 
ers are high-souled youths. It is their 
sub-title, eligible in oratory and obitu- 
ary notices, but not in the simple lan- 
guage of the press. 

Mr. W. C. Brownell alludes casually 
to the social sentiment which instinc- 
tively prefers the criminal to the police; 
but he declines to analyze its rationale. 
Perhaps, as I have already hinted, we 
may inherit it from our father, Adam, 
who could have felt no great kindness 
for Saint Michael, the first upholder of 
the given law. Justice is an unaccom- 
modating, unappealing virtue. Deep in 
our hearts is a distaste for its rulings, 
and a distrust of the fallible creatures 
who administer it. Mr. Howells, writing 
ten years ago in the "North American," 
condemned without reserve the author- 
ity which, however assailable, is our 
only bulwark against anarchy. "The 
State," he said, "is a collective despot, 
139 



Points of Friction 

mostly inexorable, always irresponsible, 
and entirely inaccessible to the personal 
appeals which have sometimes moved 
the obsolete tyrant to pity. In its selfish- 
ness and meanness it is largely the legis- 
lated and organized ideal of the lowest 
and stupidest of its citizens, whose daily 
life is nearest the level of barbarism." 

I am not without hope that the events 
of the past ten years modified Mr. 
Howells's point of view. If the German 
State revealed itself as something peril- 
ously close to barbarism, the Allied 
States presented a superb concentration 
of their peoples' unfaltering purpose. 
That the world was saved from degra- 
dation too deep to be measured was due 
to individual heroism, animated, up- 
held, and focused by the State. Though 
temperamentally conservative, I feel no 
shadow of regret for the "obsolete" and 
very picturesque tyrant who softened 
or hardened by caprice. 1 would rather 
trust our stupid and venal authorities, 
140 



The Beloved Sinner 

because, while each member of a legis- 
lative body is kind to his ov/n deficien- 
cies, he is hard on his neighbour's. Col- 
lective criticism is a fair antidote for 
collective despotism, and robs it of its 
terrors. 

If we were less incorrigibly sentimen- 
tal, we should be more nobly kind. Sen- 
timentalism is, and has always been, 
virgin of standards. It is, and it has 
always been, insensible to facts. The 
moralists who, in the first years of the 
war, protested against American muni- 
tions because they were fresh-made for 
purposes of destruction, would have 
flung the victory into Germany's hands 
because her vast stores of munitions 
had been prepared in times of peace. 
When the news of the Belgian campaign 
sickened the heart of humanity, more 
than one voice was raised to say that 
England had, by her treatment of mili- 
tant suffragists (a treatment so feeble, 
so wavering, so irascible, and so soft- 
141 



Points of Friction 

hearted that it would not have crushed 
a rebellious snail), forfeited her right to 
protest against the dishonouring of Bel- 
gian women. The moral confusion which 
follows mental confusion with a sure 
and steady step is equally dangerous 
and distasteful. It denies our integrity, 
and it makes a mock of our understand- 
ing. 

An irritated Englishman, who must 
have come into close quarters with 
British pacifists, — the least lovely of 
their species, — has protested in " Black- 
wood's Magazine" that the one thing 
dearer than the criminal to the heart of 
the humanitarian is the enemy of his 
country, whose offences he condones, 
and whose punishment he sincerely 
pities. Thus it happened that British 
women joined American women in pro- 
testing against the return of the cattle 
stolen during the last months of the war 
from northern France. They said — 
what was undoubtedly true — that 
142 



The Beloved Sinner 

German children needed the milk. 
French children also needed the milk 
(witness the death-rates from tubercu- 
losis in and about Lille), but this con- 
cerned them less. The herds belonged to 
France, and their sympathy went out 
to the raiders rather than to the raided. 
In fact all pacifists seem disposed 
to look benignly upon the "noble old 
piracy game." The Honourable Ber- 
trand Russell, whose annoyance at 
England's going to war deepened into 
resentment at her winning it (a consum- 
mation which, to speak truth, he did his 
best to avert), expressed regret that the 
sufferings of Belgium should have been 
mistakenly attributed to Germany. Not 
Berlin, he said, but war must be held 
to blame; and if war were a natural 
phenomenon, like an earth quake or 
a thunderstorm, he would have been 
right. The original Attila was not dis- 
pleased to be called the "Scourge of 
God," and pious Christians of the fifth 
143 



Points of Friction 

century acquiesced in this shifting of 
liability. They said, and they probably 
believed, that Heaven had chosen a 
barbarian to punish them for their sins. 
To-day we are less at home in Zion, and 
more insistent upon international law. 
The sternest duty of civilization is the 
assigning of responsibility for private 
and for public crimes as the rules of 
evidence direct. 

In the Christmas issue of the "Atlan- 
tic Monthly," 1919, another English- 
man of letters, Mr. Clutton-Brock, 
preached a sermon to Americans (we 
get a deal of instruction from our neigh- 
bours), the burden of which was the 
paramount duty of forgiveness. Natu- 
rally he illustrated his theme with an 
appeal for Germany, because there is 
so much to be forgiven her. That he 
made no distinction between the inju- 
ries which a citizen of Lille or Louvain, 
and the injuries which a reader of the 
"Atlantic Monthly" has to forgive, was 
144 



The Beloved Sinner 

eminently right, forgiveness being due 
for the greatest as well as for the least 
of ofifences. The Frenchman or the 
Belgian who forgives "from his heart" 
reaches a higher standard than we do; 
but the ethics of Christianity bind him 
to that standard. It is his supreme spirit- 
ual test. 

What was less endearing in Mr. 
Clutton-Brock's sermon was the play- 
ful manner in which he made light of 
wrongs which, to say the least, were not 
matters for sport. We were called on to 
pardon, "not as an act of virtue, but in 
good-humour, because we are all ab- 
surd, and all need forgiveness. . . . We 
all fail, and we have no right to say that 
another man's, or another nation's, 
failure is worse than our own. . . . We 
must govern our behaviour to each 
other by the axiom that no man is to be 
judged by his past." 

These sentences aptly illustrate my 
contention that the sentimentalist is as 
145 



Points of Friction 

unconcerned with standards as with 
facts. "Absurd" is not the word to 
apply to Germany's campaign in France 
and Flanders. A man whose home has 
been burned and whose wife has been 
butchered cannot be expected to regard 
the incident as an absurdity, or to recall 
it with good-humour. The sight of a 
child bayoneted on the roadside (five 
wounds in one poor little body picked 
up near Namur) arouses something deep 
and terrible in the human heart. To say 
that one man's failure is no worse than 
another man's failure, that one nation's 
failure is no worse than another nation's 
failure, is to deny any vital distinction 
between degrees of right and wrong. 
It is to place the German Kaiser by the 
side of Belgium's King, and George 
Washington by the side of George the 
Third. 

And by what shall men be judged, if 
not by their past? What other evidence 
can we seek? What other test can we 
146 



The Beloved Sinner 

apply? A man who has run away with 
his neighbour's wife may not care to 
repeat the offence; he may be cured for- 
ever of this particular form of covetous- 
ness; but he is not welcomed in sedately 
conducted households. A defaulter may 
be converted to the belief that honesty 
is the best policy ; but few there are who 
will entrust him with funds, and fewer 
still who will receive him as a gentle- 
man. If such behaviour is, as Mr. Clut- 
ton-Brock authoritatively asserts, op- 
posed to "a Christian technique," it 
defines the value of facts, and it holds 
upright the standard of honour. 

The well-meaning ladies and gentle- 
men who flood society with appeals to 
"open the prison door," and let our 
good-will shine as a star upon political 
prisoners, seem curiously indifferent as 
to what the liberated ones will do with 
their liberty. There are few of us so base 
as to desire to deprive our fellow- 
creatures of sunlight and the open road. 
147 



Points of Friction 

There are not many of us so unpractical 
as to want to keep them a burden upon 
the State, if we have any assurance that 
they will not be a menace to the State 
when released. Sufficiency, security, and 
freedom have been defined as the pre- 
rogatives of civilized man. The cry of 
the revolutionist for freedom is met by 
the call of sober citizens for security. 
Sympathy for the lawless (the beloved 
sinner) is not warranted in denying 
equity to the law-abiding, who have a 
right to protection from the Republic 
which they voluntarily serve and obey. 



The Virtuous Victorian 

WHEN Miss Amy Lowell, in her 
essay on Emile Verhaeren, says 
that the influence of Zola on the younger 
writers of France and Belgium was 
necessary "to down the long set of sen- 
timental hypocrisies known in England 
as 'Victorian,'" she repeats a formula 
which has been in popular use for many 
years, and to which we attach no very 
exact significance. "Early- Victorian," 
"mid- Victorian," we use the phrases 
glibly, and without being aware that the 
mental attitude to which we refer is 
sometimes not Victorian at all, but 
Georgian. Take, for example, that fairly 
famous sentiment about the British 
navy being "if possible, more distin- 
guished in its domestic virtues than in 
its national importance." Nothing more 
oppressively smug was ever uttered in 
149 



Points of Friction 

the reign of the virtuous Queen; yet 
it was written by the most humorous 
and most pitiless of Georgian novelists, 
and it expressed the conviction of her 
soul. 

When we permit ourselves to sneer at 
Victorian hypocrisies, we allude, as a 
rule, to the superficial observance of 
religious practices, and to the artificial 
reticence concerning illicit sexual rela- 
tions. The former affected life more than 
it did literature; the latter affected liter- 
ature more than it did life. A resolute 
silence is apt to imply or involve an 
equally resolute denial ; and there came a 
time when certain plain truths were 
denied because there was no other way 
of keeping them out of sight. Nov- 
elists and poets conformed to a stand- 
ard which was set by the taste of their 
day. So profoundly was the great Vic- 
torian laureate influenced by this taste 
that he grew reluctant to accept those 
simple old English stories, those charm- 
150 



The Virtuous Victorian 

ing old English traditions, the propriety 
or impropriety of which had never been 
a matter for concern. His "fair Rosa- 
mond" believes herself a wedded wife, 
and so escapes culpability. His "Maid 
Marian" wanders through Sherwood 
Forest under the respectable chaperon- 
age of her father, and will not permit to 
Robin Hood the harmless liberties com- 
mon among betrothed lovers. 

"Robin, I will not kiss thee, 
For that belongs to marriage; but I hold thee 
The husband of my heart; the noblest light 
That ever flashed across my life, and I 
Embrace thee with the kisses of the soul. 
Robin: I thank thee." 

It is a bit frigid and a bit stilted for 
the merry outlaws. "If love were all," 
we might admit that conventionalism 
had chilled the laureate's pen ; but, hap- 
pily for the great adventures we call life 
and death, love is not all. The worlc? 
swings on its way, peopled by othei 
men than lovers; and it is to Tennyson 
151 



Points of Friction 

we owe the most splendid denial of 
domesticity — and duty — that was 
ever made deathless by verse. With 
what unequalled ardour his Ulysses 
abandons home and country, the faith- 
ful, but ageing, Penelope, the devoted, 
but dull, Telemachus, and the trouble- 
some business of law-making! He does 
not covet safety. He does not enjoy the 
tranquil reward of his labours, nor the 
tranquil discharge of his obligations. 
He will drink life to the lees. He will seek 
the still untravelled world, and take 
what buffets fortune sends him. 

"For my purpose holds 
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths 
Of all the western stars, until I die. 
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down; 
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles, 
And see the great Achilles whom we knew." 

Poor Penelope! WTiat chance has she 

against such glad decision, such golden 

dreams! It is plain that the Ithacan 

navy was less distinguished than the 

152 



The Virtuous Victorian 

British navy for the development of 
domestic virtues. Until such time as 
Germany fulfils her threat, and drives 
the "bastard tongue of canting island 
pirates" from its hold on the civilized 
world, Tennyson's Ulysses will survive 
as the embodiment of the adventurous 
spirit which brooks no restraint, and 
heeds no liability. 

The great Victorian novelists were 
well aware that, albeit the average man 
does his share of love-making, he neither 
lives nor dies for love. Mr. Edmund 
Gosse, reared in the strictest sect of 
Plymouth Brethren, and professing re- 
ligion at ten, was nevertheless permitted 
by his father to read the novels of Dick- 
ens, because they dealt with the pas- 
sion of love in a humorous manner. 
More often they deal with it in a purely 
perfunctory manner, recognizing it as 
a prelude to marriage, and as something 
to which the novelist must not forget to 
make an occasional reference. Nicholas 
153 



Points of Friction 

Nickleby is a young man and a hero. 
Consequently an assortment of female 
virtues and of female charms is labelled, 
docketed, provided with ringlets and a 
capacity for appropriate swooning, — 
and behold, Nicholas has a wife. Kate 
Nickleby's husband is even more sketch- 
ily outlined. He has a name, and — we 
are told — • an impetuous and generous 
disposition. He makes his appeiarance 
when a suitor is needed, stands up to 
be married when a husband is called 
for, and that is all there is of him. But 
what do these puppets matter in a book 
which gives us Mrs. Nickleby, Vincent 
Crummies, Fanny Squeers, and the 
ever-beloved Kenwigses. It took a great 
genius to enliven the hideous picture of 
Dotheboys Hall with the appropriate 
and immortal Fanny, whom we could 
never have borne to lose. It took a great 
genius to evolve from nothingness the 
name " Morleena Kenwigs." So perfect 
a result, achieved from a mere combi- 
154 



The Virtuous Victorian 

nation of letters, confers distinction on 
the English alphabet. 

The charge of conventionalism brought 
against Thackeray and Trollope has 
more substance, because these novel- 
ists essayed to portray life soberly and 
veraciously. "Trollope," says Sir Leslie 
Stephen, "was in the awkward position 
of a realist, bound to ignore realities." 
Thackeray was restrained, partly by 
the sensitive propriety of British read- 
ers who winced at the frank admission 
of sexual infirmities, and partly by the 
quality of his own taste. In deference 
to the public, he forbore to make Arthur 
Pendennis the lover of Fanny Bolton; 
and when we remember the gallant part 
that Fanny plays when safely settled 
at Clavering, her loyalty to i»her old 
friend, Bows, and her dexterity in 
serving him, we are glad she went un- 
smirched into that sheltered port. 

The restrictions so cheerfully accepted 
by Thackeray, and his reticence — ■ 
155 



Points of Friction 

which is merely the reticence observed 
by every gentleman of his day — leave 
him an uncrippled spectator and analyst 
of the complicated business of living. 
The world is not nearly so simple a 
place as the sexualists seem to consider 
it. To the author of "Vanity Fair" it 
was not simple at all. Acting and react- 
ing upon one another, his characters 
crowd the canvas, their desires and am- 
bitions, their successes and failures, in- 
extricably interwoven into one vast 
social scheme. It is not the decency of 
Thackeray's novels which affronts us 
(we are seldom unduly aware that they 
are decent), but the severity with which 
he judges his own creations, and his 
rank and shameless favouritism. What 
business has he to coddle Rawdon 
Crawley ("honest Rawdon," forsooth!), 
to lay siege to our hearts with all the 
skill of a great artificer, and compel our 
liking for this fool and reprobate? What 
business has he to pursue Becky Sharp 
156 



The Virtuous Victorian 

like a prosecuting attorney, to trip her 
up at every step, to betray, to our dis- 
comfiture, his cold hostility? He treats 
Blanche Amory in the same merciless 
fashion, and no one cares. But Becky! 
Becky, that peerless adventuress who, 
as Mr. Brownell reminds us, ran her 
memorable career before psychology 
was thought of as an essential element 
of fiction. Becky whose scheming has 
beguiled our weary hours, and recom- 
pensed us for the labour of learning to 
read. How shall we fathom the mental 
attitude of a novelist who could create 
such a character, control her fluctuat- 
ing fortunes, lift her to dizzy heights, 
topple her to ruin, extricate her from 
the dust and debris of her downfall, — 
and hate her! 

Trollope, working on a lower level, 
obser\^ant rather than creative, was 
less stem a moralist than Thackeray, 
but infinitely more cautious of his foot- 
steps. He kept soberly in the appointed 
157 



Points of Friction 

path, and never once in thirty years 
trod on the grass or flower-beds. Lady 
Glencora PalHser thinks, indeed, of 
leaving her husband ; but she does not do 
it, and her continency is rewarded after 
a fashion which is very satisfactory to 
the reader. Mr. PalHser aspires some- 
what stiffly to be the lover of Lady 
Dumbello; but that wise worldling, 
ranking love the least of assets, declines 
to make any sacrifice at its shrine. 
Trollope unhesitatingly and proudly 
claimed for himself the quality of harm- 
lessness. "I do believe," he said, "that 
no girl has risen from the reading of my 
pages less modest than she was before, 
and that some girls may have learned 
from them that modesty is a charm 
worth possessing." 

This is one of the admirable senti- 
ments which should have been left un- 
spoken. It is a true word as far as it goes, 
but more suggestive of "Little Women," 
or "A Summer in Leslie Goldthwaite's 
158 



The Virtuous Victorian 

Life," than of those virile, varied and 
animated novels which make no appeal 
to immaturity. In Trollope's teeming 
world, as in the teeming world about us, 
a few young people fall in love and are 
married, but this is an infrequent epi- 
sode. Most of his men and women, like 
the men and women whom we know, 
are engrossed in other activities. Once, 
indeed, Bishop Proudie wooed and won 
Mrs. Proudie. Once Archdeacon Grantly 
wooed and won Mrs. • Grantly. But 
neither of these gentlemen could possi- 
bly have belonged to "the great cruis- 
ing brotherhood of the Pilgrims of 
Love." "Le culte de la femme" has 
never been a popular pastime in Britain, 
and Trollope was the last man on the 
island to have appreciated its signifi- 
cance. He preferred politics, the hunt- 
ing-field, and the church. 

Yet surely Archdeacon Grantly is 
worth a brace of lovers. With what sin- 
cerity he is drawn, and with what con- 
159 



Points of Friction 

summate care! A churchman who, as 
Sir Leslie Stephen somewhat petulantly 
observes, "gives no indication of having 
any religious views whatever, beyond a 
dislike to dissenters." A solidly respect- 
able member of provincial clerical soci- 
ety, ambitious, worldly, prizing wealth, 
honouring rank, unspiritual, unpro- 
gressive, — but none the less a man 
who would have proved his worth in the 
hour of England's trial. 

It is a testimony to the power of 
fiction that, having read with breath- 
less concern and through countless 
pages Mr. Britling's reflections on 
the war, my soul suddenly cried out 
within me for the reflections of Arch- 
deacon Grantly. Mr. Britling is an acute 
and sensitive thinker. The archdeacon's 
mental processes are of the simplest. 
Mr. Britling has winged his triumphant 
flight from "the clumsy, crawling, snob- 
bish, comfort-loving caterpillar of Vic- 
torian England." The archdeacon is 
1 60 



The Virtuous Victorian 

still confessedly a grub. Mr. Britling has 
"truckled to no domesticated god." The 
archdeacon's deity is open to such 
grievous innuendoes. Yet I wish I could 
have stood on the smooth lawn of Plum- 
stead, and have heard what the arch- 
deacon had to say when he learned that 
an English scholar and gentleman had 
smuggled out of England, by the help 
of a female "confidential agent," a 
treacherous appeal to the President of 
the United States, asking that pressure 
should be brought upon fighting Eng- 
lishmen in the interests of peace. I wish 
I could have heard the cawing rooks of 
Plumstead echo his mighty wrath. For 
there is that in the heart of a man, even 
a Victorian churchman with a love of 
preferment and a distaste for dissenters, 
which holds scatheless the sacred thing 
called honour. 

Trollope is as frank about the arch- 
deacon's frailties as Mr. Wells is frank 
about Mr. Britling's frailties. In pip- 
i6i 



Points of Friction 

ing days of peace, the archdeacon's 
contempt for Mr. Britling would have 
been as sincere and hearty as Mr. 
Britling's contempt for the archdeacon. 
But under the hard, heroic discipline of 
war there would have come to the arch- 
deacon, as to Mr. Britling, a white dawn 
of revelation. Both men have the liber- 
ating qualities of manhood. 

It is always hard to make an elastic 
phrase fit with precision. We know what 
we mean by Victorian conventions and 
hypocrisies, but the perpetual intrusion 
of blinding truths disturbs our point of 
view. The new Reform bill and the 
extension of the suffrage were hardy 
denials of convention. "The Origin of 
Species" and "Zoological Evidences as 
to Man's Place in Nature" were not 
published in the interests of hypocrisy. 
There was nothing oppressively respect- 
able about "The Ring and the Book"; 
and Swinburne can hardly be said to 
have needed correction at Zola's hands. 
162 



The Virtuous Victorian 

These mid-Victorian products have a 
savour of freedom about them, and so 
has "The Ordeal of Richard Feverel." 
Even the Homeric eloquence of Ruskin 
was essentially the eloquence of the 
free. The tw^o lessons he sought to drive 
home to his reluctant readers were, first, 
that Englishmen were not living on an 
illuminated earth spot, under the espe- 
cial patronage of the Almighty; and, 
second, that no one was called by Provi- 
dence to the enjoyment of wealth and 
security. If such unpleasant and reiter- 
ated truths — as applicable to the 
United States to-day as they were to 
Victoria's England — are "smug," then 
Jeremiah is sugar-coated, and the Bap- 
tist an apostle of ease. 

The English have at all times lacked 
the courage of their emotions, but not 
the emotions themselves. Their reti- 
cence has stood for strength as well as 
for stiffness. The pre-Raphaelites, in- 
deed, surrendered their souls with docil- 
163 



Points of Friction 

ity to every wavelet of feeling, and pro- 
duced something iridescent, like the 
shining of wet sand. Love, according to 
their canon, was expressed with trans- 
parent ease. It was "a great but rather 
sloppy passion," says Mr. Ford Madox 
Hueffer, "which you swooned about on 
broad general lines." A pre-Raphaelite 
corsair languished as visibly as a pre- 
Raphaelite seraph. He could be bowled 
over by a worsted ball; but he was at 
least more vigorous and more ruddy 
than a cubist nude. One doubted his 
seared conscience and his thousand 
crimes; but not his ability to walk un- 
assisted downstairs. 

The Victorian giants were of mighty 
girth. They trod the earth with proud 
and heavy steps, and with a strength 
of conviction which was as vast and 
tranquil as the plains. We have parted 
with their convictions and with their 
tranquillity. We have parted also with 
their binding prejudices and with their 
164 



The Virtuous Victorian 

standards of taste. Freedom has come 
to us, not broadening down 

"from precedent to precedent," 

but swiftly and comprehensively. There 
are no more taboos, no more silent or 
sentimental hypocrisies. We should now 
know a great many interesting details 
concerning the Marquis of Steyne and 
the Duke of Omnium, if these two im- 
posing figures had not passed forever 
from our ken. We should have search- 
lights thrown upon Becky Sharp, if 
Becky had not escaped into the gloom. 
Her successors sin exhaustively, and 
with a lamentable lack of esprit. We 
are bidden to scrutinize their transgres- 
sions, but Becky's least peccadillo is 
more engaging than all their broken 
commandments. The possibility of pro- 
found tediousness accompanying per- 
fect candour dawns slowly on the truth- 
tellers of fiction. It takes a great ar- 
tist, like Edith Wharton, to recognize 
165 



Points of Friction 

and deplore "the freedom of speech 
which never arrives at wit, and the 
freedom of act which never makes for 
romance." 



Woman Enthroned 

THE Michigan magistrate who gave 
orders that a stalwart male angel 
presiding over the gateway of a cemetery 
should be recast in feminine mould may 
have been an erring theologian and a 
doubtful art-critic; but that he was a 
sound-hearted American no one can 
deny. He was not thinking of Azrael the 
mighty who had garnered that little 
harvest of death; or of Michael, great 
leader of the "fighting seraphim," 

whose blade 

"smote and felled 
Squadrons at once " ; 

or of Gabriel the messenger. Holy Writ 
was as remote from his mental vision 
as was Paradise Lost. He was thinking 
very properly of the "angel in the 
house," and this feminine ideal was 
affronted by the robust outlines, no 
167 



Points of Friction 

less than by the robust virtues, associ- 
ated with the heavenly host. Cowley's 
soothing compromise, which was de- 
signed as a compliment to a lady, and 
which, instead of unsexing angels, en- 
dowed them with a double line of poten- 
cies, — 

"They are than Man more strong, and more than 
Woman sweet," — 

is not easily expressed in art. The very 
gallant Michigan gentleman simplified 
the situation by eliminating the mascu- 
line element. He registered his profes- 
sion of faith in the perfectibility of 
women. 

It is awkward to be relegated to the 
angelic class, and to feel that one does 
not fit. Intelligent feminists sometimes 
say that chivalry — that inextinguish- 
able point of view which has for centu- 
ries survived its own death-notices — 
is more disheartening than contempt. 
Chivalry is essentially protective. It is 
rooted in the consciousness of superior 
1 68 



Woman Enthroned 

strength. It is expansively generous and 
scrimpingly just. It will not assure to 
women a fair field and no favours, 
which is the salvation of all humanity; 
but it will protect them from the conse- 
quences of their own deeds, and that 
way lies perdition. 

Down through the ages we see the 
working of this will. Rome denied to 
women all civic rights, but allowed 
them many privileges. They were not 
permitted to make any legal contract. 
They were not permitted to bequeath 
their own fortunes, or — ordinarily — 
to give testimony in court. But they 
might plead ignorance of the law, "as 
a ground for dissolving an obligation," 
which, if often convenient, was always 
demoralizing. Being somewhat con- 
temptuously absolved from the oath of 
allegiance in the Middle Ages, they 
were as a consequence immune from 
outlawry. On the other hand, the se- 
verity with which they were punished 
169 



Points of Friction 

for certain crimes which were presumed 
to come easy to them — poisoning, hus- 
band-murder, witchcraft (King Jamie 
was not the only wiseacre who mar- 
velled that there should be twenty 
witches to one warlock) — is evidence 
of fear on the legislators' part. The old- 
est laws, the oldest axioms which ante- 
date all laws, betray this uneasy sense 
of insecurity. "Day and night must 
women be held by their protectors in a 
state of dependence," says Manu, the 
Hindu Noah, who took no female with 
him in his miraculously preserved boat, 
but was content with his own safety, 
and trusted the continuance of the race 
to the care and ingenuity of the gods. 

In our day, and in our country, women 
gained their rights (I use the word 
"rights" advisedly, because, though its 
definition be disputed, every one knows 
what it implies) after a prolonged, but 
not embittered struggle. Certain States 
moved so slowly that they were over- 
170 



Woman Enthroned 

taken by a Federal Amendment. Even 
with the franchise to back them, Ameri- 
can women have a hard time making 
their way in the professions, though a 
great deal of courtesy is shown them by 
professional men. They have a hard 
time making their way in trades, 
where the unions block their progress. 
They have a very small share of political 
patronage, and few good positions on 
the civil lists. WTiether the best inter- 
ests of the country will be advanced 
or retarded by a complete recognition 
of their claims — which implies giv- 
ing them an even chance with men 
— is a point on which no one can speak 
with authority. The absence of data 
leaves room only for surmise. Women 
are striving to gain this "even chance" 
for their own sakes, which is lawful and 
reasonable. Their public utterances, it is 
true, dwell pointedly on the regenera- 
tion of the world. This also is lawful and 
reasonable. Public utterances have al- 
171 



Points of Friction 

ways dwelt on the regeneration of the 
world, since the apple was eaten and 
Paradise closed its gates. 

Meanwhile American chivalry, a 
strong article and equal to anything 
Europe ever produced, clings passion- 
ately and persistently to its inward 
vision. Ellen Key speaks casually of 
"the vices which men call woman's 
nature." If Swedish gentlemen permit 
themselves this form of speech, it finds 
no echo in our loyal land. Two things 
an American hates to do, — hold a 
woman accountable for her misdeeds, 
and punish her accordingly. When 
Governor Craig of North Carolina set 
aside the death-sentence which had 
been passed upon a murderess, and com- 
mitted her to prison for life, he gave to 
the public this plain and comprehensive 
statement: "There is no escape from 
the conclusion that Ida Bell Warren 
is guilty of murder, deliberate and 
premeditated. Germany executed the 
172 



Woman Enthroned 

woman spy ; England did not. The action 
of the military Governor of Belgium 
was condemned by the conscience of 
the world. The killing of this woman 
would send a shiver through North 
Carolina." 

Apart from the fact that Edith Cavell 
was not a spy, and that her offence was 
one which has seldom in the world's his- 
tory been so cruelly punished, Governor 
Craig's words deserve attention. He ex- 
plicitly exempted a woman, because she 
was a woman, from the penalty which 
would have been incurred by a man. 
Incidentally he was compelled to com- 
mute the death-sentence of her confed- 
erate, as it was hardly possible to send 
the murderous wife to prison, and her 
murderous accomplice to the chair. 
That the execution of Mrs. Warren 
would have sent a "shiver" through 
North Carolina is doubtless true. The 
Governor had received countless letters 
and telegrams protesting against the 
173 



Points of Friction 

infliction of the death-penalty on a 
woman. 

One of the reasons which has been 
urged for the total abolition of this pen- 
alty is the reluctance of juries to con- 
vict women of crimes punishable by 
death. The number of wives who mur- 
der their husbands, and of girls who 
murder their lovers, is a menace to soci- 
ety. Our sympathetic tolerance of these 
crimes passionnes, the sensational scenes 
in court, and the prompt acquittals 
which follow, are a menace to law and 
justice. Better that their perpetrators 
should be sent to prison, and suffer a 
few years of corrective discipline, until 
soft-hearted sentimentalists circulate 
petitions, and secure their pardon and 
release. 

The right to be judged as men are 
judged is perhaps the only form of 
equality which feminists fail to demand. 
Their attitude to their own errata is well 
expressed in the solemn warning ad- 
174 



Woman Enthroned 

dressed by Mr. Louis Untermeyer's Eve 
to the Almighty, 

"Pause, God, and ponder, ere Thou judgest me!" 

The right to be punished is not, and has 
never been, a popular prerogative with 
either sex. There was, indeed, a London 
baker who was sentenced in the year 
1 8i 6 to be whipped and imprisoned for 
vagabondage. He served his term; but, 
whether from clemency or from over- 
sight, the whipping was never admin- 
istered. When released, he promptly 
brought action against the prison au- 
thorities because he had not been 
whipped, "according to the statute," 
and he won his case. Whether or not the 
whipping went with the verdict is not 
stated ; but it was a curious joke to play 
with the grim realities of British law. 

American women are no such stick- 
lers for a code. They acquiesce in their 
frequent immunity from punishment, 
and are correspondingly, and very nat- 
175 



Points of Friction 

urally, indignant when they find them- 
selves no longer immune. There was a 
pathetic ring in the explanation offered 
some years ago by Mayor Harrison of 
Chicago, whose policemen were accused 
of brutality to female strikers and pick- 
ets. ''When the women do anything in 
violation of the law," said the Mayor 
to a delegation of citizens, "the police 
arrest them. And then, instead of going 
along quietly as men prisoners would, 
the women sit down on the sidewalks. 
What else can the policemen do but lift 
them up?" 

If men "go along quietly," it is be- 
cause custom, not choice, has bowed 
their necks to the yoke of order and 
equity. They break the law without 
being prepared to def}' it. The lawless- 
ness of women may be due as much to 
their long exclusion from citizenship, 

"Some reverence for the laws ourselves have 
made," 

as to the lenity shown them by men, — 
176 



Woman Enthroned 

a lenity which they stand ever ready to 
abuse. We have only to imagine what 
would have happened to a group of men 
who had chosen to air a grievance by 
picketing the WTiite House, the speed 
with which they would have been ar- 
rested, fined, dispersed, and forgotten, 
to realize the nature of the tolerance 
granted to women. For months these 
female pickets were unmolested. Money 
was subscribed to purchase for them 
umbrellas and overshoes. The Presi- 
dent, whom they were affronting, sent 
them out coffee on cold mornings. It 
was only when their utterances became 
treasonable, when they undertook to 
assure our Russian visitors that Mr. 
Wilson and Mr. Root were deceiving 
Russia, and to entreat these puzzled 
foreigners to help them free our nation, 
that their sport was suppressed, and 
they became liable to arrest and impris- 
onment. 

Much censure was passed upon the 
177 



Points of Friction 

unreasonable violence of these women. 
The great body of American suffragists 
repudiated their action, and the anti- 
suffragists used them to point stern 
morals and adorn vivacious tales. But 
was it quite fair to permit them in the 
beginning a liberty which would not 
have been accorded to men, and which 
led inevitably to licence? Were they not 
treated as parents sometimes treat chil- 
dren, allowing them to use bad language 
because, "if you pay no attention to 
them, they will stop it of their own ac- 
cord " ; and then, when they do not stop 
it, punishing them for misbehaving be- 
fore company? When a sympathetic 
gentleman wrote to a not very sympa- 
thetic paper to say that the second 
Liberty Loan would be more popular if 
Washington would "call off the dogs of 
war on women," he turned a flashlight 
upon the fathomless gulf with which 
sentimentalism has divided the sexes. 
No one dreams of calling policemen and 
178 



Woman Enthroned 

magistrates "dogs of war " because they 
arrest and punish men for disturbing 
the peace. If men claim the privileges of 
citizenship, they are permitted to suffer 
its penalties. 

A few years before the war, a rage for 
compiling useless statistics swept over 
Europe and the United States. When it 
was at its height, some active minds 
bethought them that children might be 
made to bear their part in the guidance 
of the human race. Accordingly a series 
of questions — some sensible and some 
foolish — were put to English, German, 
and American school-children, and their 
enlightening answers were given to the 
world. One of these questions read: 
"Would you rather be a man or a 
woman, and why?" Naturally this 
query was of concern only to little girls. 
No sane educator would ask it of a boy. 
German pedagogues struck it off the 
list. They said that to ask a child, 
"Would you rather be something you 
^79 



Points of Friction 

must be, or something you cannot pos- 
sibly be?" was both foolish and useless. 
Interrogations concerning choice were 
of value only when the will was a deter- 
mining factor. 

No such logical inference chilled the 
examiners' zeal in this inquisitive land. 
The question was asked and was an- 
swered. We discovered, as a result, that 
a great many little American girls (a 
minority, to be sure, but a respectable 
minority) were well content with their 
sex; not because it had its duties and 
dignities, its pleasures and exemptions; 
but because they plainly considered 
that they were superior to little Ameri- 
can boys, and were destined, when 
grown up, to be superior to American 
men. One small New England maiden 
wrote that she would rather be a woman 
because "Women are always better 
than men in morals." Another, because 
"Women are of more use in the world." 
A third, because "Women learn things 
1 80 



Woman Enthroned 

quicker than men, and have more 
intelligence." And so on through vary- 
ing degrees of self-sufficiency. 

These little girls, who had no need to 
echo the Scotchman's prayer, "Lord, 
gie us a gude conceit o' ourselves!" 
were old maids in the making. They 
had stamped upon them in their tender 
childhood the hall-mark of the American 
spinster. "The most ordinary cause of 
a single life," says Bacon, "is liberty, 
especially in certain self-pleasing and 
humorous minds." But it is reserved for 
the American woman to remain unmar- 
ried because she feels herself too valu- 
able to be entrusted to a husband's 
keeping. Would it be possible in any 
country save our own for a lady to 
write to a periodical, explaining "Why 
I am an Old Maid," and be paid coin of 
the realm for the explanation? Would it 
be possible in any other country to hear 
such a question as "Should the Gifted 
Woman Marry?" seriously asked, and 
i8i 



Points of Friction 

seriously answered? Would It be possi- 
ble for any sane and thoughtful woman 
who was not an American to consider 
even the remote possibility of our spin- 
sters becoming a detached class, who 
shall form "the intellectual and eco- 
nomic elite of the sex, leaving marriage 
and maternity to the less developed 
woman" ? What has become of the be- 
lief, as old as civilization, that marriage 
and maternity are developing processes, 
forcing into flower a woman's latent 
faculties; and that the less-developed 
woman is inevitably the woman who 
has escaped this keen and powerful 
stimulus? "Never," said Edmond de 
Goncourt, "has a virgin, young or old, 
produced a work of art." One makes 
allowance for the Latin point of view. 
And it is possible that M. de Goncourt 
//' never read "Emma." 

There is a formidable lack of humour 
in the somewhat contemptuous attitude 
of women, whose capabilities have not 
182 



Woman Enthroned 

yet been tested, toward men who stand 
responsible for the failures of the world. 
It denotes, at home and abroad, a den- 
sity not far removed from dulness. In 
Mr. St. John Ervine's depressing little 
drama, "Mixed Marriage," which the 
Dublin actors played in New York some 
years ago, an old woman, presumed to 
be witty and wise, said to her son's be- 
trothed : "Sure, I believe the Lord made 
Eve when He saw that Adam could not 
take care of himself"; and the remark 
reflected painfully upon the absence of 
that humorous sense which we used to 
think was the birthright of Irishmen. 
The too obvious retort, which nobody 
uttered, but which must have occurred 
to everybody's mind, was that if Eve 
had been designed as a care-taker, she 
had made a shining failure of her job. 

That astute Oriental, Sir Rabindra- 
nath Tagore, manifested a wisdom be- 
yond all praise in his recognition of 
American standards, when addressing 
183 



Points of Friction 

American audiences. As the hour for his 
departure drew nigh, he was asked to 
write, and did write, a "Parting Wish 
for the Women of America," giving 
graceful expression to the sentiments he 
knew he was expected to feel. The skill 
with which he modified and popularized 
an alien point of view revealed the sea- 
soned lecturer. He told his readers that 
* ' God has sent woman to love the world, ' * 
and to build up a "spiritual civiliza- 
tion." He condoled with them because 
they were "passing through great suf- 
ferings in this callous age." His heart 
bled for them, seeing that their hearts 
"are broken every day, and victims are 
snatched from their arms to be thrown 
under the car of material progress." The 
Occidental sentiment which regards 
man simply as an offspring, and a 
fatherless offspring at that (no woman, 
says Olive Schreiner, could look upon a 
battle-field without thinking, "So many 
mothers' sons!"), came as naturally to 
184 



Woman Enthroned 

Sir Rabindranath as if he had been to 
the manner bom. He was content to 
see the passion and pain, the sorrow 
and heroism of men, as reflections mir- 
rored in a woman's soul. The ingenious 
gentlemen who dramatize Biblical nar- 
ratives for the American stage, and 
who are hampered at every step by 
the obtrusive masculinity of the East, 
might find a sympathetic supporter in 
this accomplished and accommodating 
Hindu. 

The story of Joseph and his Brethren, 
for example, is perhaps the best tale 
ever told the world, — a tale of adven- 
ture on a heroic scale, with conflicting 
human emotions to give it poignancy 
and power. It deals with pastoral sim- 
plicities, with the splendours of court, 
and with the "high finance" which 
turned a free landholding people into 
tenantry of the crown. It is a story of 
men, the only lady introduced being a 
disedifying dea ex machina, whose popu- 
185 



Points of Friction 

larity in Italian art has perhaps blinded 
us to the brevity of her Biblical role. 
But when this most dramatic narrative 
was cast into dramatic form, Joseph's 
splendid loyalty to his master, his cold 
and vigorous chastity, were nullified by 
giving him an Egyptian sweetheart. 
Lawful marriage with this young lady 
being his sole solicitude, the advances 
of Potiphar's wife were less of a tempta- 
tion than an intrusion. The keynote of 
the noble old tale was destroyed, to 
assure to woman her proper place as 
the guardian of man's integrity. 

Still more radical was the treatment 
accorded to the parable of the "Prodi- 
gal Son," which was expanded into a 
pageant play, and acted with a hardy 
realism permitted only to the strictly 
ethical drama. The scriptural setting of 
the story was preserved, but its patri- 
archal character was sacrificed to mod- 
ern sentiment which refuses to be in- 
terested in the relation of father and 
i86 



Woman Enthroned 

son. Therefore we beheld the prodigal 
equipped with a mother and a trusting 
female cousin, who, between them, put 
the poor old gentleman out of commis- 
sion, reducing him to his proper level of 
purveyor-in-ordinary to the household. 
It was the prodigal's mother who bade 
her reluctant husband give their wilful 
son his portion. It was the prodigal's 
mother who watched for him from the 
house-top, and silenced the voice of 
censure. It was the prodigal's mother 
who welcomed his return, and persuaded 
father and brother to receive him into 
favour. The whole duty of man in that 
Syrian household was to obey the im- 
pelling word of woman, and bestow 
blessings and bags of gold according to 
her will. 

The expansion of the maternal senti- 
ment until it embraces, or seeks to em- 
brace, humanity, is the vision of the 
emotional, as opposed to the intellec- 
tual, feminist. "The Mother State of 
187 



Points of Friction 

which we dream" offers no attraction 
to many plain and practical workers, 
and is a veritable nightmare to others. 
"Woman," writes an enthusiast in the 
"Forum," "means to be, not simply the 
mother of the individual, but of society, 
of the State with its man-made institu- 
tions, of art and science, of religion and 
morals. All life, physical and spiritual, 
personal and social, needs to be moth- 
ered." 

"Needs to be mothered " ! When men 
proffer this welter of sentiment in the 
name of women, how is it possible to 
say convincingly that the girl student 
standing at the gates of knowledge is as 
humble-hearted as the boy; that she 
does not mean to mother medicine, or 
architecture, or biology, any more than 
the girl in the banker's office means to 
mother finance? Her hopes for the future 
are founded on the belief that fresh 
opportunities will meet a sure response ; 
but she does not, if she be sane, measure 
i88 



Woman Enthroned 

her untried powers by any presumptive 
scale of valuation. She does not consider 
the advantages which will accrue to 
medicine, biology, or architecture by 
her entrance — as a woman — into any 
one of these fields. Their need for her 
maternal ministration concerns her less 
than her need for the magnificent her- 
itage they present. 

It has been said many times that the 
craving for material profit is not instinc- 
tive in women. If it is not instinctive, it 
will be acquired, because every legiti- 
mate incentive has its place in the prog- 
ress of the world. The demand that 
women shall be paid men's wages for 
men's work may represent a desire for 
justice rather than a desire for gain; 
but money fairly earned is sweet in the 
hand, and to the heart. An open field, 
an even start, no handicap, no favours, 
and the same goal for all. This is the 
worker's dream of paradise. Women 
have long known that lack of citizen- 
189 



Points of Friction 

ship was an obstacle in their path. Self- 
love has prompted them to overrate 
their imposed, and underrate their in- 
herent, disabiUties. "Whenever you see 
a woman getting a high salary, make up 
your mind that she is giving twice the 
value received," writes an irritable cor- 
respondent to the "Survey"; and this 
pretension paralyzes effort. To be satis- 
fied with ourselves is to be at the end of 
our usefulness. 

M. Emile Faguet, that most radical 
and least sentimental of French femi- 
nists, would have opened wide to women 
every door of which man holds the key. 
He would have given them every legal 
right and burden which they are physi- 
cally fitted to enjoy and to bear. He 
was as unvexed by doubts as he was 
uncheered by illusions. He had no more 
fear of the downfall of existing institu- 
tions than he had hope for the regenera- 
tion of the world. The equality of men 
and women, as he saw it, lay, not in 
190 



Woman Enthroned 

their strength, but in their weakness; 
not in their intelligence, but in their 
stupidity; not in their virtues, but in 
their perversity. Yet there was no taint 
of pessimism in his rational refusal to be 
deceived. No man saw more clearly, or 
recognized more justly, the art with 
which his countryw^omen have cemented 
and upheld a social state at once flexible 
and orderly, enjoyable and inspiriting. 
That they have been the allies, and not 
the rulers, of men in building this fine 
fabric of civilization was also plain to 
his mind. Allies and equals he held them, 
but nothing more. ''Lafemme est par- 
faitement Vegale de Vhomme, mats elle 
n'est que son egale'' 

Naturally to such a man the attitude 
of Americans toward women was as un- 
sympathetic as was the attitude of 
Dahomeyans. He did not condemn it 
(possibly he did not condemn the 
Dahomeyans, seeing that the civic and 
social ideals of France and Dahomey 
191 



Points of Friction 

are in no wise comparable) ; but he ex- 
plained with careful emphasis that the 
French woman, unlike her American 
sister, is not, and does not desire to be, 
"un ohjet sacro-saint." The reverence 
for women in the United States he as- 
sumed to be a national trait, a sort of 
national institution among a proud and 
patriotic people. "L'idoldtrie de lafemme 
est une chose americaine par excellence'* 
The superlative complacency of Amer- 
ican women is due largely to the ora- 
torical adulation of American men, — 
an adulation that has no more substance 
than has the foam on beer. I have heard 
a candidate for office tell his female 
audience that men are weak and women 
are strong, that men are foolish and 
women are wise, that men are shallow 
and women are deep, that men are sub- 
missive tools whom women, the leaders 
of the race, must instruct to vote for 
Mm. He did not believe a word that he 
said, and his hearers did not believe that 
192 



Woman Enthroned 

he believed it; yet the grossness of his 
flattery kept pace with the hypocrisy 
of his self -depreciation. The few men 
present wore an attitude of dejection, 
not unlike that of the little boy in 
"Punch" who has been told that he is 
made of 

"Snips and snails, 
And puppy dogs' tails," 

and can "hardly believe it." 

What Mr. Roosevelt called the "luna- 
tic fringe" of every movement is pain- 
fully obtrusive in the great and noble 
movement which seeks fair play for 
women. The "full habit of speech" is 
never more regrettable than when the 
cause is so good that it needs but tem- 
perate championing. "Without the aid 
of women, England could not carry on 
this war," said Mr. Asquith in the sec- 
ond year of the great struggle, — an ob- 
vious statement, no doubt, but simple, 
truthful, and worthy to be spoken. Why 
should the "New Republic," in an arti- 
193 



Points of Friction 

cle bearing the singularly ill-mannered 
title, "Thank You For Nothing!" have 
heaped scorn upon these words? Why 
should its writer have made the angry 
assertion that the British Empire had 
been "deprived of two generations of 
women's leadership," because only a 
world's war could drill a new idea into a 
statesman's head? The war has drilled 
a great many new ideas into all our 
heads. Absence of brain matter could 
alone have prevented this infusion. But 
"leadership" is a large word. It is not 
what men are asking, and it is not what 
women are ofTering, even at this stage of 
the game. Partnership is as far as obli- 
gation on the one side and ambition on 
the other are prepared to go ; and a clear 
understanding of this truth has accom- 
plished great results. 

Therefore, when we are told that the 
women of to-day are "giving their vital- 
ity to an anaemic world," we wonder if 
the speaker has read a newspaper for 
194 



Woman Enthroned 

the past half-dozen years. The passion- 
ate cruelty and the passionate heroism 
of men have soaked the earth with blood. 
Never, since it came from its Maker's 
hands, has it seen such shame and 
glory. There may be some who still be- 
lieve that this blood would not have 
been spilled had women shared in the 
citizenship of nations; but the argu- 
ments they advance in support of an 
undemonstrable theory show a soothing 
ignorance of events. 

' ' War will pass, ' ' says Olive Schreiner, 
"when intellectual culture and activity 
have made possible to the female an 
equal share in the control and govern- 
ment of modem national life." And 
why? Because "Arbitration and com- 
pensation will naturally occur to her as 
cheaper and simpler methods of bridg- 
ing the gaps in national relationship." 

Strange that this idea never "natu- 
rally " occurred to man ! Strange that no 
delegate to The Hague should have per- 
195 



Points of Friction 

ceived so straight a path to peace! 
Strange that when Germany struck her 
long-planned, well-prepared blow, this 
cheap and simple measure failed to stay 
her hand! War will pass when injustice 
passes. Never before, unless hope leaves 
the world. 

That any civilized people should bar 
women from the practice of law is to the 
last degree absurd and unreasonable. 
There never can be an adequate cause 
for such an injurious exclusion. There is, 
in fact, no cause at all, only an arbi- 
trary decision on the part of those who 
have the authority to decide. Yet noth- 
ing is less worth while than to speculate 
dizzily on the part women are going to 
play in any field from which they are at 
present debarred. They may be ready 
to burnish up "the rusty old social or- 
ganism," and make it shine like new; 
but this is not the work which lies 
immediately at hand. A suffragist who 
believes that the world needs house- 
196 



Woman Enthroned 

cleaning has made the terrifying state- 
ment that when English women enter 
the law courts they will sweep away all 
"legal frippery," all the "accumulated 
dust and rubbish of centuries." Latin 
terms, flowing gowns and wigs, silly 
staves and worn-out symbols, all must 
go, and with them must go the anti- 
quated processes which confuse and re- 
tard justice. The women barristers of 
the future will scorn to have "legal na- 
tures like Portia's," basing their claims 
on quibbles and subterfuges. They will 
cut all Gordian knots. They will deal 
with naked simplicities. 

References to Portia are a bit dis- 
quieting. Her law was stage law, good 
enough for the drama which has always 
enjoyed a jurisprudence of its own. We 
had best leave her out of any serious 
discussion. But why should the admis- 
sion of women to the bar result in a 
volcanic upheaval? Women have prac- 
tised medicine for years, and have not 
197 



Points of Friction 

revolutionized it. Painstaking service, 
rather than any brilliant display of 
originality, has been their contribution 
to this field. It is reasonable to suppose 
that their advance will be resolute and 
beneficial. If they ever condescended 
to their profession, they do so no longer. 
If they ever talked about belonging to 
*'the class of real people," they have 
relinquished such flowers of rhetoric. If 
they have earnestly desired the fran- 
chise, it was because they saw in it jus- 
tice to themselves, not the torch which 
would enlighten the world. 

It is conceded theoretically that wom- 
an's sphere is an elastic term, embrac- 
ing any work she finds herself able to 
do, — not necessarily do well, because 
most of the world's work is done badly, 
but well enough to save herself from fail- 
ure. Her advance is unduly heralded 
and unduly criticized. She is the target 
for too much comment from friend and 
foe. On the one hand, a keen (but of 
198 



Woman Enthroned 

course perverted) misogynist like Sir 
Andrew iNIacphail, welcomes her en- 
trance into public life because it will 
tend to disillusionment. If woman can 
be persuaded to reveal her elemental 
inconsistencies, man, freed in some 
measure from her charm — which is the 
charm of retenue — will no longer be 
subject to her rule. On the other hand, 
that most feminine of feminists, Miss 
Jane Addams, predicts that "the dul- 
ness which inheres in both domestic and 
social affairs when they are carried on 
by men alone, will no longer be a neces- 
sary attribute of public life when gra- 
cious and grey-haired women become 
part of it." 

If Sir Andrew is as acid as Schopen- 
hauer, Miss Addams is early Victorian. 
Her point of view presupposes a condi- 
tion of which we had not been even 
dimly aware. Granted that domesticity 
palls on the solitary male. Housekeep- 
ing seldom attracts him. The tea-table 
199 



Points of Friction 

and the friendly cat fail to arrest his 
roving tendencies. Granted that some 
men are polite enough to say that they 
do not enjoy social events in which 
women take no part. They showed no dis- 
position to relinquish such pastimes un- 
til the arid days of prohibition, and even 
now they cling forlornly to the ghost of 
a cheerful past. WTien they assert, how- 
ever, that they would have a much bet- 
ter time if women were present, no one 
is wanton enough to contradict them. 
But public life! The arena in which 
whirling ambition sweeps human souls 
as an autumn wind sweeps leaves; 
which resounds with the shouts of the 
conquerors and the groans of the con- 
quered; which is degraded by cupidity 
and ennobled by achievement; that this 
field of adventure, this heated race- 
track needs to be relieved from dulness 
by the presence and participation of 
elderly ladies is the crowning vision of 
sensibility. 

200 



Woman Enthroned 

"Qui veut faire Vange fait la Mte,** 
said Pascal; and the Michigan angel is 
a danger signal. The sentimental and 
chivalrous attitude of American men 
reacts alarmingly when they are 
brought face to face with the actual 
terms and visible consequences of wom- 
an's enfranchisement. There exists a 
world-wide and age-long belief that 
what women want they get. They must 
want it hard enough and long enough to 
make their desire operative. It is the list- 
less and preoccupied unconcern of their 
own sex which bars their progress. But 
men will fall into a flutter of admiration 
because a woman runs a successful 
dairy-farm, or becomes the mayor of 
a little town ; and they will look aghast 
upon such commonplace headlines as 
these in their morning paper: "Women 
Confess Selling Votes"; "Chicago 
Women i\rrested for Election Frauds"; 
— as if there had not always been, and 
would not always be, a percentage of 

201 



Points of Friction 

unscrupulous voters in every electorate. 
No sane woman believes that women, as 
a body, will vote more honestly than 
men; but no sane man believes that 
they will vote less honestly. They are 
neither the "gateway to hell," as Ter- 
tullian pointed out, nor the builders of 
Sir Rabindranath Tagore's "spiritual 
civilization." They are neither the re- 
positories of wisdom, nor the final word 
of folly. 

It was unwise and unfair to turn a 
searchlight upon the first woman in 
Congress, and exhibit to a gaping world 
her perfectly natural limitations. Such 
limitations are common in our legisla- 
tive bodies, and excite no particular 
comment. They are as inherent in the 
average man as in the average woman. 
They in no way affect the question of 
enfranchisement. Give as much and ask 
no more. Give no more and ask as much. 
This is the watchword of equality. 

"God help women when they have 
202 



Woman Enthroned 

only their rights!" exclaimed a brilliant 
American lawyer; but it is in the "only" 
that all savour lies. Rights and privi- 
leges are incompatible. Emancipation 
implies the sacrifice of immunity, the 
acceptance of obligation. It heralds the 
reign of sober and disillusioning experi- 
ence. Women, as M. Faguet reminds us, 
are only the equals of men ; a truth which 
was simply phrased in the old Cornish 
adage, "Lads are as good as wenches 
when they are washed." 



The Strayed Prohibitionist 

THE image of the prohibition-bred 
American youth (not this genera- 
tion, but the next) straying through the 
wine-drenched and ale-drenched pages of 
English literature captivates the fancy. 
The classics, to be sure, are equally bibu- 
lous ; but with the classics the American 
youth has no concern. The advance 
guard of educators are busy clearing 
away the debris of Greek and Latin 
which has hitherto clogged his path. 
There is no danger of his learning from 
Homer that "Generous wine gives 
strength to toiling men," or from Socra- 
tes that "The potter's art begins with 
the wine jar," or from the ever-scanda- 
lous Horace that "Wine is mighty to in- 
spire hope, and to drown the bitterness 
of care." The professor has conspired 
with the prohibitionist to save the un- 
204 



The Strayed Prohibitionist 

dergraduate from such disedifying sen- 
timents. 

As for the Bible, where com and oil 
and wine, the three fruits of a bounti- 
ful harv^est, are represented as of equal 
virtue, it will probably be needful to 
supply such texts with explanatory and 
apologetic footnotes. The sweet and 
sober counsel of Eccleslastes : "Forsake 
not an old friend, for the new will not 
be like to him. A new friend is as new 
wine; it shall grow old, and thou shalt 
drink it with pleasure," has made its 
way into the heart of humanity, and 
has been embedded in the poetry of 
every land. But now, like the most 
lovely story of the marriage feast at 
Cana, it has been robbed of the sim- 
plicity of its appeal. I heard a ser- 
mon preached upon the marriage feast 
which ignored the miracle altogether. 
The preacher dwelt upon the dignity 
and responsibility of the married state, 
reprobated divorce, and urged parents 
.205 



Points of Friction 

to send their children to Sunday school. 
It was a perfectly good sermon, filled 
with perfectly sound exhortations; but 
the speaker "strayed." Sunday schools 
were not uppermost in the holy Moth- 
er's mind when she perceived and pitied 
the humiliation of her friends. 

The banishing of the classics, the 
careful editing of the Scriptures, and 
the comprehensive ignorance of foreign 
V languages and letters which distin- 
guishes the young American, leaves only 
the field of British and domestic liter- 
ature to enlighten or bewilder him. 
Now New England began to print books 
about the time that men grew restive 
as to the definition of temperance. Long- 
fellow wrote a "Drinking Song" to 
water, which achieved humour without 
aspiring to it, and Dr. Holmes wrote a 
teetotaller's adaptation of a drinking 
song, which aspired to humour without 
achieving it. As a matter of fact, no 
drinking songs, not even the real ones 
206 



The Strayed Prohibitionist 

and the good ones which sparkle in 
Scotch and English verse, have any il- 
lustrative value. They come under the 
head of special pleading, and are apt to 
be a bit defiant. In them, as in the tem- 
perance lecture, "that good sister of 
common life, the vine," becomes an 
exotic, desirable or reprehensible ac- 
cording to the point of view, but never 
simple and inevitable, like the olive- 
tree and the sheaves of corn. 

American letters, coming late in the 
day, are virgin of wine. There have 
been books, like Jack London's "John 
Barleycorn," written in the cause of 
temperance; there have been pleasant 
trifles, like Dr. Weir Mitchell's "Ma- 
deira Party," written to commemorate 
certain dignified convivialities which 
even then were passing silently away; 
and there have been chance allusions, 
like Mr. Dooley's vindication of whisky 
from the charge of being food: "I 
wudden't insult it be placin' it on the 
207 



Points of Friction 

same low plain as a lobster salad"; and 
his loving recollection of his friend 
Schwartzmeister's cocktail, which was 
of such generous proportions that it 
"needed only a few noodles to look like 
a biled dinner." But it is safe to say 
that there is more drinking in "Pick- 
wick Papers" than in a library of 
American novels. It is drinking with- 
out bravado, without reproach, without 
justification. For natural treatment of 
a debatable theme, Dickens stands un- 
rivalled among novelists. 

We are told that the importunate vir- 
tue of our neighbours, having broken 
one set of sympathies and understand- 
ings, will in time deprive us of meaner 
indulgences, such as tobacco, tea, and 
coffee. But tobacco, tea, and coffee, 
though friendly and compassionate to 
men, are late-comers and district-dwell- 
ers. They do not belong to the stately 
procession of the ages, like the wine 
which Noah and Alexander and Caesar 
208 



The Strayed Prohibitionist 

and Praxiteles and Plato and Lord 
Kitchener drank. When the Elgin mar- 
bles were set high over the Parthenon, 
when the Cathedral of Chartres grew 
into beauty, when "Hamlet" was first 
played at the Globe Theatre, men lived 
merrily and wisely without tobacco, 
tea, and coffee, but not without wine. 
Tobacco was given by the savage to the 
civilized world. It has an accidental 
quality which adds to its charm, but 
which promises consolation when those 
who are better than we want to be have 
taken it away from us. "I can under- 
stand," muses Dr. Mitchell, "the dis- 
covery of America, and the invention of 
printing; but what human want, what 
instinct, led up to tobacco? Imagine 
intuitive genius capturing this noble 
idea from the odours of a prairie fire!" 
Charles Lamb pleaded that tobacco 
was at worst only a "white devil." But 
it was a persecuted little devil which for 
years suffered shameful indignities. We 
209 



Points of Friction 

have Mr. Henry Adams's word for ft 
that, as late as 1862, Englishmen were 
not expected to smoke in the house. 
They went out of doors or to the stables. 
Only a licensed libertine like Monckton 
Milnes permitted his guests to smoke 
in their rooms. Half a century later, 
Mr. Rupert Brooke, watching a designer 
in the advertising department of a New 
York store making "Matisse-like illus- 
trations to some notes on summer suit- 
ings," was told by the superintendent 
that the firm gave a "free hand" to its 
artists, "except for nudes, improprie- 
ties, and figures of people smoking." To 
these last, some customers — even cus- 
tomers of the sex presumably interested 
in summer suitings — "strongly ob- 
jected." 

The new school of English fiction 
which centres about the tea-table, and 
in which, as in the land of the lotus- 
eaters, it is always afternoon, affords 
an arena for conversation and an easily 
210 



The Strayed Prohibitionist 

procurable atmosphere. England is the 
second home of tea. She waited cen- 
turies, kettle on hob and cat purring 
expectantly by the fire, for the coming 
of that sweet boon, and she welcomed it 
with the generous warmth of wisdom. 
No duties daunted her. No price was 
too high for her to pay. No risk was 
too great to keep her from smuggling 
the "China drink." No hearth was too 
humble to covet it, and the homeless 
brewed it by the roadside. Isopel Bem- 
ers, that peerless and heroic tramp, paid 
ten shillings a pound for her tea; and 
when she lit her fire in the Dingle, com- 
fort enveloped Lavengro, and he tasted 
the delights of domesticity. 

But though England will doubtless 
fight like a lion for her tea, as for her 
cakes and ale, when bidden to purify 
herself of these indulgences, yet it is the 
ale, and not the tea, which has coloured 
her masterful literature. There are 
phrases so inevitable that they defy 

211 



Points of Friction 

monotony. Such are the "wine-dark 
sea" of Greece, and the "nut-brown ale" 
of England. Even Lavengro, though he 
shared Isopel's tea, gave ale, "the true 
and proper drink of Englishmen," to 
the wandering tinker and his family. 
How else, he asks, could he have be- 
friended these wretched folk? "There 
is a time for cold water" [this is a gen- 
erous admission on the writer's part], 
"there is a time for strong meat, there 
is a time for advice, and there is a time 
for ale; and I have generally found that 
the time for advice is after a cup of 
ale." 

"Lavengro" has been called the epic 
of ale; but Borrow was no English 
rustic, content with the buxom charms 
of malt, and never glancing over her 
fat shoulder to wilder, gayer loves. He 
was an accomplished wanderer, at home 
with all men and with all liquor. He 
could order claret like a lord, to impress 
the supercilious waiter in a London inn. 

212 



The Strayed Prohibitionist 

He could drink Madeira with the old 
gentleman who counselled the study of 
Arabic, and the sweet wine of Cypress 
with the Armenian who poured it from 
a silver flask into a silver cup, though 
there was nothing better to eat with it 
than dry bread. When, harried by the 
spirit of militant Protestantism, he 
peddled his Bibles through Spain, he 
dined with the courteous Spanish and 
Portuguese Gipsies, and found that 
while bread and cheese and olives com- 
prised their food, there was always a 
leathern bottle of good white wine to 
give zest and spirit to the meal. He 
offered his brandy-flask to a Genoese 
sailor, who emptied it, choking horribly, 
at a draught, so as to leave no drop for a 
shivering Jew who stood by, hoping for 
a turn. Rather than see the Christian 
cavalier's spirits poured down a Jewish 
throat, explained the old boatman 
piously, he would have suffocated. 
Englishmen drank malt liquor long 
213 



Points of Friction 

before they tasted sack or canary. The 
ale-houses of the eighth century bear a 
respectable tradition of antiquity, until 
we remember that Egyptians were 
brewing barley beer four thousand years 
ago, and that Herodotus ascribes its 
invention to the ingenuity and benevo- 
lence of Isis. Thirteen hundred years 
before Christ, in the time of Seti I, an 
Egyptian gentleman complimented Isis 
by drinking so deeply of her brew that 
he forgot the seriousness of life, and we 
have to-day the record of his unseemly 
gaiety. Xenophon, with notable lack of 
enthusiasm, describes the barley beer of 
Armenia as a powerful beverage, "agree- 
able to those who were used to it"; and 
adds that it was drunk out of a common 
vessel through hollow reeds, — a com- 
mendable sanitary precaution. 

In Thomas Hardy's story, ' * The Shep- 
herd's Christening," there is a rare trib- 
ute paid to mead, that glorious intoxi- 
cant which our strong-headed, stout- 
214 



The Strayed Prohibitionist 

hearted progenitors drank unscathed. 
The traditional "heather ale" of the 
Picts, the secret of which died with the 
race, was a glorified mead. 

"Fra' the bonny bells o' heather 
They brewed a drink lang-syne, 
T was sweeter far than honey, 
T was stronger far than wine." 

The story goes that, after the bloody 
victory of the Scots under Kenneth 
MacAlpine, in 860, only two Picts who 
knew the secret of the brew survived 
the general slaughter. Some say they 
were father and son, some say they 
were master and man. When they were 
offered their lives in exchange for the 
recipe, the older captive said he dared 
not reveal it while the younger lived, 
lest he be slain in revenge. So the Scots 
tossed the lad into the sea, and waited 
expectantly. Then the last of the Picts 
cried, "I only know!" and leaped into 
the ocean and was drowned. It is a 
brave tale. One wonders if a man would 
215 



Points of Friction 

die to save the secret of making milk- 
toast. 

From the pages of history the pro- 
hibition-bred youth may glean much off- 
hand information about the wine which 
the wide world made and drank at every 
stage of civilization and decay. If, after 
the fashion of his kind, he eschews 
history, there are left to him ency- 
clopaedias, with their wealth of detail, 
and their paucity of intrinsic realities. 
Antiquarians also may be trusted to 
supply a certain number of papers on 
"leather drinking- vessels," and "toasts 
of the old Scottish gentry." But if the 
youth be one who browses untethered 
in the lush fields of English literature, 
taking prose and verse, fiction and fact, 
as he strays merrily along, what will 
he make of the hilarious company in 
which he finds himself? WTiat of Fal- 
stafT, and the rascal, Autolycus, and of 
Sir Toby Belch, who propounded the 
fatal query which has been answered in 
216 



The Strayed Prohibitionist 

1919? What of Herrick's "joy-sops," 
and "capring wine," and that simple 
and sincere "Thanksgiving" hymn 
which takes cognizance of all mercies? 

"Lord, I confess too, when I dine, 

The pulse is thine. 
The worts, the purslane, and the mess 

Of water-cress. 
T is Thou that crown'st my glittering hearth 

With guiltless mirth, 
And giv'st me wassail bowls to drink, 

Spiced to the brink." 

The lines sound like an echo of Saint 
Chrysostom's wise warning, spoken 
twelve hundred years before: "Wine is 
for mirth, and not for madness." 

Biographies, autobiographies, mem- 
oirs, diaries, all are set with traps 
for the unwary, and all are alike un- 
conscious of offence. Here is Dr. John- 
son, whose name alone is a tonic for 
the morally debilitated, saying things 
about claret, port, and brandy which 
bring a blush to the cheek of temper- 
ance. Here is Scott, that "great good 
217 



Points of Friction 

man" and true lover of his kind, telling 
a story about a keg of whisky and a 
Liddesdale farmer which one hardly 
dares to allude to, and certainly dares 
not repeat. Here is Charles Lamb, 
that "frail good man," drinking more 
than is good for him; and here is 
Henry Crabb Robinson, a blameless, 
disillusioned, prudent sort of person, 
expressing actual regret when Lamb 
ceases to drink. "His change of habit, 
though it on the whole improves his 
health, yet, when he is low-spirited, 
leaves him without a remedy or relief." 
John Evelyn and Mr. Pepys witnessed 
the blessed Restoration, when England 
went mad with joy, and the fountains 
of London ran wine. 

"A very merry, dancing, drinking, 
Laughing, quaffing, and unthinking" 

time it was, until the gilt began to wear 
off the gingerbread. But Evelyn, though 
he feasted as became a loyal gentleman, 
and admitted that canary carried to the 
218 



The Strayed Prohibitionist 

West Indies and back for the good of its 
health was "incomparably fine," yet 
followed Saint Chrysostom's counsel. 
He drank, and compelled his household 
to drink, with sobriety. There is real 
annoyance expressed in the diary when 
he visits a hospitable neighbour, and 
his coachman is so well entertained in 
the servants' hall that he falls drunk 
from the box, and cannot pick himself 
up again. 

Poor Mr. Pepys was ill fitted by a 
churlish fate for the simple pleasures 
that he craved. To him, as to many 
another Englishman, wine was precious 
only because it promoted lively con- 
versation. His "debauches" (it pleased 
him to use that ominous word) were 
very modest ones, for he was at all 
times prudent in his expenditures. But 
claret gave him a headache, and Bur- 
gundy gave him the stone, and late 
suppers, even of bread and butter and 
botargo, gave him indigestion. There- 
219 



Points of Friction 

fore he was always renouncing the 
alleviations of life, only to be lured 
back by his incorrigible love of com- 
panionship. There is a serio-comic 
quality in his story of the two bottles 
of wine he sent for to give zest to his 
cousin Angler's supper at the Rose 
Tavern, and which were speedily emp- 
tied by his cousin Angler's friends: 
"And I had not the wit to let them 
know at table that it was I who paid 
for them, and so I lost my thanks." 

If the young prohibitionist be light- 
hearted enough to read Dickens, or 
imaginative enough to read Scott, or 
sardonic enough to read Thackeray, he 
will find everybody engaged in the great 
business of eating and drinking. It 
crowds love-making into a corner, be- 
ing, indeed, a pleasure which survives 
all tender dalliance, and restores to the 
human mind sanity and content. I am 
convinced that if Mr. Galsworthy's 
characters ate and drank more, they 

220 



The Strayed Prohibitionist 

would be less obsessed by sex, and I 
wish they would try dining as a re- 
storative. 

The older novelists recognized this 
most expressive form of realism, and 
knew that, to be accurate, they must 
project their minds into the minds of 
their characters. It is because of their 
sympathy and sincerity that we recall 
old Osborne's eight-shilling Madeira, 
and Lord Steyne's WTiite Hermitage, 
which Becky gave to Sir Pitt, and the 
brandy-bottle clinking under her bed- 
clothes, and the runlet of canary which 
the Holy Clerk of Copmanhurst found 
secreted conveniently in his cell, and 
the choice purl which Dick Swiveller 
and the Marchioness drank in Miss 
Sally Brass's kitchen. We hear War- 
rington's great voice calling for beer, 
we smell the fragrant fumes of burning 
rum and lemon-peel when Mr. Micawber 
brews punch, we see the foam on the 
"Genuine Stunning" which the child 

221 



Points of Friction 

David calls for at the public house. No 
writer except Peacock treats his char- 
acters, high and low, as royally as does 
Dickens ; and Peacock, although British 
publishers keep issuing his novels in 
new and charming editions, is little 
read on this side of the sea. Moreover, 
he is an advocate of strong drink, which 
is very reprehensible, and deprives him 
of candour as completely as if he had 
been a teetotaller. We feel and resent 
the bias of his mind; and although he 
describes with humour that pleasant 
middle period, "after the Jacquerie 
were down, and before the march of 
mind was up," yet the only one of his 
stories which is Innocent of specious- 
ness is "The Misfortunes of Elphin." 

Now to the logically minded "The 
Misfortunes of Elphin" Is a temperance 
tract. The disaster which ruins the 
countryside is the result of shameful 
drunkenness. The reproaches levelled 
by Prince Elphin at Seithenyn ap 

222 



The Strayed Prohibitionist 

Seithyn are sterner and more deeply 
deserved than the reproaches levelled by 
King Henry at Falstaff; yet the tale 
rocks and reels with Seithenyn's pota- 
tions. There are drunkards whom we 
can conceive of as sober, but he is not 
one of them. There are sinners who 
can be punished or pardoned, but he is 
not one of them. As he is incapable of 
reform, so is he immune from retribu- 
tion. Out of the dregs of his folly ooze 
the slow words of his wisdom. Nature 
befriends him because he is a natural 
force, and man submits to him because 
he is fulfilling his natural election. The 
good and the wicked fret about him, 
and grow old in the troublesome proc- 
ess; but he remains unchangeably, 
immutably drunk. "Wine is my medi- 
cine," he says with large simplicity, 
"and my measure is a little more." 

If ever the young prohibitionist strays 
into the wine-cellar of Seithenyn ap 
Seithyn, he will have a shell-shock. It 
223 



Points of Friction 

may even be that his presence will sour 
the casks, as the presence of a woman 
is reputed to sour the casks in the great 
caves of the Gironde, where wine 
ripens slowly, acquiring merit in silence 
and seclusion like a Buddhist saint, 
and as sensitive as a Buddhist saint to 
the perilous proximity of the feminine. 
This ancient and reasonable tradition 
is but one phase of the ancient and 
reasonable hostility between intoxicants 
and the sober sex, which dates perhaps 
from the time when Roman women were 
forbidden to taste their husbands' wine, 
but were fed on sweet syrups, like warm 
soda-fountain beverages, to the ruin of 
their health and spirits. Small wonder if 
they handed down to their great-grand- 
daughters a legitimate antagonism to 
pleasures they were not permitted to 
share, and if their remote descendants 
still cherish a dim, resentful conscious- 
ness of hurt. It was the lurking ghost 
of a dead tyranny which impelled an 
224 



The Strayed Prohibitionist 

American woman to write to President 
Roosevelt, reproving him for having 
proposed a toast to Mr. John Hay's 
daughter on her wedding-day. "Think," 
she said, "of the effect on your friends, 
on your children, on your immortal 
soul, of such a thoughtless act." 

Nomadic tribes — the vigilant ones 
who looked well ahead — wisely forbade 
the cultivation of the vine. Their 
leaders knew that if men made wine, 
they would want to stay at home and 
drink it. The prohibition-bred youth, 
if he is to remain faithful to the cus- 
toms of his people, had better not culti- 
vate too sedulously the great literature, 
smelling of hop-fields, and saturated 
with the juice of the grape. Every step 
of the way is distracting and dangerous. 
When I was a school-girl 1 was authori- 
tatively bidden — only authority could 
have impelled me — to strengthen my 
errant mind by reading the " Areopagit- 
ica." There I found this amazing sen- 
225 



Points of Friction 

tence: "They are not skilful considerers 
of human things who imagine to remove 
sin by removing the matter of sin." 
But then Milton wrote "L 'Allegro." 



Money 



AS the world is, and will be, *t is a 
sort of duty to be rich," wrote 
Lady Mary VVortley Montagu ; and her 
words — which sound almost ascetic 
in our ears — were held to be of doubt- 
ful morality in the godless eighteenth 
century which she adorned and typified. 
Even Lady Mary endeavoured to qual- 
ify their greed by explaining that she 
valued money because it gave her the 
power to do good ; but her hard-headed 
compatriots frankly doubted this ex- 
cusatory clause. They knew perfectly 
well that a desire to do good is not, and 
never has been, a motive power in the 
acquisition of wealth. 

Lady Mary did render her coun- 
try one inestimable service; but her 
fortune (which, after all, was of no 
great magnitude) had nothing whatever 
227 



Points of Friction 

to do with it. Intelligent observation, 
dauntless courage, and the supreme 
confidence which nerved her to ex- 
periment upon her own child, — these 
qualities enabled her to force inoculation 
upon a reluctant and scandalized pub- 
lic. These qualities have lifted man- 
kind out of many a rut, and are all we 
shall have to depend on while the world 
rolls on its way. When Aristotle said 
that money was barren, he did not mean 
that it was barren of delights; but that 
it had no power to get us to any place 
worth reaching, no power to quicken 
the intellectual and spiritual potencies 
of the soul. 

The love of gold, the craving for 
wealth, has not lain dormant for ages 
in the human heart, waiting for the 
twentieth century to call it into being. 
It is no keener now than it has always 
been, but it is ranker in its growth and 
expression, being a trifle over-nourished 
in our plethoric land, and not subjected 
228 



Money 

to keen competing emotions. Great 
waves of religious thought, great strug- 
gles for principles and freedom, great 
births of national life, great discoveries, 
great passions, and great wrongs, — 
these things have swayed the world, 
wrecking and saving the souls of men 
without regard for money. Great quali- 
ties, too, have left their impress upon 
the human race, and endowed it for all 
the years to come. 

The genius which in the thirteenth 
century found expression in archi- 
tecture and scholasticism, which in the 
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries 
found expression in art and letters, finds 
expression to-day in applied science 
and finance. Industrial capitalism, as 
we know it now, is the latest develop- 
ment of man's restless energy. It has 
coloured our times, given us new values 
in education, and intruded itself grossly 
into the quiet places of life. We should 
bear with it patiently, we might even 
229 



Points of Friction 

"admire it from afar," if only we were 
sometimes suffered to forget. "Money 
talks," and, by way of encouraging its 
garrulity, we talk about money, and in 
terms of money, until it would some- 
times appear as if the currency of the 
United States were the only thing in the 
country vital enough to interpret every 
endeavour, and illustrate every situa- 
tion. 

Here, for example, is an imposing pic- 
ture in a Sunday paper, a picture full of 
dignified ecclesiastics and decorous spec- 
tators.The text reads, " Breaking ground 
for a three-million-dollar nave." It is a 
comprehensive statement, and one that 
conveys to the public the only circum- 
stance which the public presumably 
cares to hear. But it brings a great 
cathedral down to the level of the mil- 
lion-dollar club-houses, or boat-houses, 
or fishing-camps which are described 
for us in unctuous and awe-stricken 
paragraphs. It is even dimly suggestive 
230 



Money 



of the million-dollar babies whom re- 
porters follow feverishly up and down 
Palm Beach, and who will soon have to 
be billion-dollar babies if they want to 
hold their own. We are now on terms 
of easy familiarity with figures which 
used to belong to the abstractions of 
arithmetic, and not to the world of life. 
We have become proudly aware of the 
infinite possibilities of accumulation and 
of waste. 

For this is the ebb and flow of Ameri- 
can wealth. It is heaped up with resist- 
less energy and concentration ; it is dis- 
sipated in broken and purposeless pro- 
fusion. Every class resents the extrava- 
gance of every other class ; but none will 
practise denial. The millionaire who 
plays with a yacht and decks his wife 
with pearls looks askance upon the motor 
and silk shirt of the artisan. The artisan, 
with impulses and ambitions as ignoble 
and as unintelligent as the millionaire's, 
is sullenly aware that, waste as he may, 
231 



Points of Friction 

the rich can waste more, and he is still 
dissatisfied. There is no especial appeal 
to manhood in a silk shirt, no approach 
to sweetness and light. It represents an 
ape-like imitation of something not 
worth imitating, a hopeless ignorance 
of the value and worth of money. 

A universal reluctance to practise 
economy indicates a weakness in the 
moral fibre of a nation, a dangerous 
absence of pride. There is no power of the 
soul strong enough to induce thrift but 
pride. There is no quality stern enough 
to bar self-indulgence but the over- 
mastering dictates of self-respect. There 
is no joy that life can yield comparable 
to the joy of independence. A nation is 
free when it submits to coercion from 
no other nation. A man is free when he 
is the arbiter of his own fate. National 
and individual freedom have never 
come cheap. The sacrifice which in- 
sures the one insures the other; the 
resolution which preserves the one pre- 
232 



Money 



serves the other. When Andrew Mar- 
veil declined the bribe offered him 
"out of pure affection" by the Lord 
Treasurer, saying he had "a blade- 
bone of mutton" in his cupboard which 
would suffice for dinner, he not only 
held his own honour inviolate, but he 
vindicated the liberty of letters, the 
liberty of Parliament, and the liberty of 
England. No wonder an old chronicler 
says that his integrity and spirit were 
"dreadful" to the corrupt officials of 
his day. 

There are Americans who appear to 
love their country for much the same 
reason that Stevenson's "child" loves 
the "friendly cow": 

"She gives me cream with all her might 
To eat with apple tart." 

WTien the supply of cream runs short, 

the patriot's love runs shorter. He holds 

virulent mass-meetings to complain of 

the cow, of the quality of the cream, and 

of its distribution. If he be an immigrant, 

233 



Points of Friction 

he probably riots in the streets, not 
clamouring for the flesh-pots of Egypt — 
that immemorial cry for ease and bond- 
age — inasmuch as the years of his 
thraldom had been softened by no such 
indulgence; but simply because the 
image of the cow is never absent from 
his mind, or from the minds of those to 
whom he looks for guidance. The captain 
of industry and the agitator, the spend- 
thrift and the spendthrift's wife who 
fling their money ostentatiously to the 
' four winds of heaven, the working-man 
and the working-woman who exact the 
largest wage for the least labour, all are 
actuated by the same motive, — to get 
as much and to give as little as they can. 
It is not a principle which makes for 
citizenship, and it will afford no great 
help in the hour of the nation's trial. 
Material progress and party politics are 
engrossing things; but perhaps Francis 
Parkman was right when he said that if 
our progress is to be at the mercy of our 
234 



Money 

politics, and our politics at the mercy 
of our mobs, we shall have no lasting 
foundation for prosperity and well- 
being. 

The tendency to gloat over the sight 
and sound of money may be less per- 
vasive than it seems. It may be only a 
temporary predisposition, leaving us at 
heart clean, wise, and temperate. But 
there is a florid exuberance in the han- 
dling of this recurrent theme which nau- 
seates us a little, like very rich food 
eaten in a close room. WTiy should we 
be told that " the world gapes in wonder " 
as it contemplates "an Aladdin romance 
of steel and gold".'* The world has had 
other things to gape over in these sor- 
rowful and glorious years. "Once a bare- 
foot boy, now riding in a hundred-thou- 
sand-dollar private car." There is a head- 
line to catch the public eye, and make 
the public tongue hang watering from 
its mouth. That car, "early Pullman 
and late German Lloyd," is to the 
235 



Points of Friction 

American reader what the two thousand 
black slaves with jars of jewels upon their 
heads were to Dick Swiveller, — a vision 
of tasteful opulence. More intimate 
journalists tell us that a "Financial 
Potentate" eats baked potatoes for his 
luncheon, and gives his friends note- 
books with a moral axiom on each page. 
We cannot really care what this un- 
known gentleman eats. We cannot, 
under any conceivable circumstance, 
covet a moral notebook. Yet such items 
of information would not be painstak- 
ingly acquired unless they afforded some 
mysterious gratification to their readers. 
As for the "athletic millionaires," 
who sport in the open like — and often 
with — ordinary men, they keep their 
chroniclers nimble. Fashions in plutoc- 
racy change with the changing times. 
The reporter who used to be turned 
loose in a nabob's private office, and 
who rapturously described its "ebony 
centre-table on which is laid a costly 
236 



Money 

cover of maroon-coloured silk plush," 
and its panelled walls, "the work of 
a lady amateur of great ability" (I 
quote from a newspaper of 1890), now 
has to scurry round golf-links, and 
shiver on the outskirts of a polo-field. 
From him we learn that young New 
Yorkers, the least and lowest of whom 
lives in a nine-hundred-thousand-dol- 
lar house, play tennis and golf like 
champions, or "cut a wide swathe in 
polo circles with their fearless riding." 
From him we learn that "automobile 
racing can show its number of million- 
aires," as if it were at all likely to show 
its number of clerks and ploughmen. 
Extravagance may be the arch-enemy 
of efficiency, but it is, and has always 
been, the friend of aimless excess. 

When I was young, and millionaires 
were a rarity in my unassuming town, 
a local divine fluttered our habitual 
serenity by preaching an impassioned 
sermon upon a local Croesus. He was 
237 



Points of Friction 

but a moderate sort of Croesus, a man 
of kindly nature and simple vanities, 
whom his townspeople had been in 
the habit of regarding with mirthful 
and tolerant eyes. Therefore it was a 
bit startling to hear — from the pulpit 
— that this amiable gentleman was "a 
crown of glory upon the city's brow," 
and that his name was honoured 
"from the Golden Gate to New Jer- 
sey's silver sands." It was more than 
startling to be called upon to admire 
the meekness with which he trod the 
common earth, and the unhesitat- 
ing affability with which he bowed to 
all his acquaintances, "acknowledging 
every salute of civility or respect," 
because, "like another Frederick II 
of Prussia," he felt his fellow-citizens 
to be human beings like himself. This 
admission into the ranks of humanity, 
however gratifying to our self-esteem, 
was tempered by so many exhorta- 
tions to breathe our millionaire's name 
238 



Money 



with becoming reverence, and was ac- 
companied by such a curious medley of 
Bible texts, and lists of distinguished 
people whom the millionaire had en- 
tertained, that we hardly knew where 
we stood in the order of creation. 

Copies of this sermon, which was 
printed "in deference to many im- 
portunities," are now extremely rare. 
Reading its yellow pages, we become 
aware that the rites and ceremonies 
with which one generation worships its 
golden calf differ in detail from the 
rites and ceremonies with which another 
generation performs this pious duty. 
The calf itself has never changed since 
it was first erected in the wilderness, 
— the original model hardly admitting 
of improvement. Ruskin used to point 
out gleefully a careless couple who, in 
Claude 's picture of the adoration of the 
golden calf, are rowing in a pleasure 
boat on a stream which flows mysteri- 
ously through the desert. Indifferent to 
239 



Points of Friction 

gold, uninterested in idolatry, this pair 
glide smoothly by; and perhaps the 
river of time bears them through cen- 
turies of greed and materialism to some 
hidden haven of repose. 

Saint Thomas Aquinas defines the 
sin of avarice as a "desire to acquire or 
retain in undue measure, beyond the 
order of reason." Possibly no one has 
ever believed that he committed this 
sin, that there was anything unreason- 
able in his desires, or undue in their 
measure of accomplishment. "Reason" 
is a word of infinite flexibility. The stat- 
isticians who revel in mathematical 
intricacies tell us that Mr. John D. 
Rockefeller's income is one hundred 
dollars a minute, and that his yearly 
income exceeds the lifetime earnings of 
two thousand average American citizens, 
and is equivalent to the income of fifty 
average American citizens sustained 
throughout the entire Christian era. It 
sounds more bewildering than seductive, 
240 



Money 

and the breathless rush of a hundred 
dollars a minute is a little like the 
seven dinners a day which Alice in 
Wonderland stands ready to forego 
as a welcome punishment for misbe- 
haviour. But who shall say that a 
hundred dollars a minute is beyond the 
"order of reason"? Certainly Saint 
Thomas did not refer to incomes of 
this range, inasmuch as his mind 
(though not without a quality of 
vastness) could never have embraced 
their possibility. 

On the other hand, Mr. Rockefeller 
is responsible for the suggestion that 
Saint Paul, were he living to-day, would 
be a captain of industry. Here again a 
denial is as valueless as an assertion. It 
is much the habit of modem propagan- 
dists — no matter what their propa- 
ganda may be — to say that the gap be- 
tw^een themselves and the Apostles is 
merely a gap of centuries, and that the 
unlikeness, which seems to us so vivid, 
241 



Points of Friction 

is an unlikeness of time and circum- 
stance, not of the inherent quahties of 
the soul. The multiplication of assets, 
the destruction of trade-rivalry, formed 
— apparently — no part of the original 
apostolic programme. If the tent-maker 
of Tarsus coveted wealth, he certainly 
went the wrong way about getting it. 
If there was that in his spirit which cor- 
responded to the modern instinct for 
accumulation, he did great injustice to 
his talents, wasting his incomparable 
energy on labours which — from his 
own showing — left him too often home- 
less, and naked, and hungry. Even the 
tent-making, by which he earned his 
bread, appears to have been valuable to 
him for the same reason that the blade- 
bone of mutton was valuable to Andrew 
Marvell, — not so much because it 
filled his stomach, as because it insured 
his independence. 

''U amour d' argent a passS en dogme de 
morale publique," wrote George Sand, 
242 



Money 

whose words have now and then a 
strange prophetic ring. The "peril of 
prosperity," to borrow President Hib- 
ben's alliterative phrase, was not in her 
day the menace it is in ours, nor has it 
ever been in her land the menace it has 
been in ours, because of the many other 
perils, not to speak of other interests 
and other ideals, filling the Frenchman's 
mind. But if George Sand perceived a 
growing candour in the deference paid 
to wealth, to wealth as an abstraction 
rather than to its possessor, a dropping 
of the old hypocrisies which made a pre- 
tence of doubt and disapproval, a devel- 
opment of honoured and authorized 
avarice, she was a close observer as well 
as a caustic commentator. 

The artlessness of our American atti- 
tude might disarm criticism were any- 
thing less than public sanity at stake. 
We appeal simply and robustly to the 
love of gain, and we seldom appeal in 
vain. It is not only that education has 
243 



Points of Friction 

substituted the principle of getting on 
for less serviceable values; but we are 
bidden to purchase marketable knowl- 
edge, no less than marketable food- 
stuffs, as an easy avenue to fortune. If 
we will eat and drink the health-giving 
comestibles urged upon us, our improved 
digestions will enable us to earn larger 
incomes. If we will take a highly com- 
mended course of horse-shoeing or 
oratorio-writing, prosperity will be our 
immediate reward. If we will buy some 
excellent books of reference, they will 
teach us to grow rich. 

"There are one thousand more mil- 
lionaires in the United States than there 
were ten years ago," say the purveyors 
of these volumes. "At the present rate 
of increase, the new millionaires in the 
next few years will be at least twelve 
hundred. Will you be one of them?'' 
There is a question to ask a young 
American at the outset of his career! 
There Is an incentive to study ! And by 
244 



Money 

way of elucidating a somewhat doubt- 
ful situation, the advertisers go on to 
say: "Typical men of brains are those 
who have dug large commercial enter- 
prises out of a copper mine, or trans- 
formed buying and selling into an art. 
You must take a leaf from the experi- 
ence of such men if you would hold 
positions of responsibility and power." 
Just how the reference books — chill 
avenues of universal erudition — are 
going to give us control of a copper mine 
or of a department store is not made 
clear; but their vendors know that there 
is no use in offering anything less than 
wealth, or, as it is sometimes spelled, 
"success," as a return for the price of 
the volumes. And if a tasteful border 
design of fat money-bags scattering a 
cascade of dollars fails to quicken the 
sales, there is no tempting the heart of 
man. Our covetousness is as simple and 
as easily played upon as was the covet- 
ousness of the adventurers who went 
245 



Points of Friction 

digging for buried treasures on the 
unimpeachable authority of a sooth- 
sayer. The testimony offered in a New 
Jersey court that a man had bought 
some farmland because the spirit of a 
young negro girl had indicated that 
there was money hidden beneath the 
soil ; the arraignment before a Brooklyn 
magistrate of two Gipsy women, charged 
with stealing the cash they had been 
commissioned to "bless," are proof, if 
proof were needed, that intelligence has 
not kept pace with cupidity. 

The endless stories about messenger 
boys and elevator men who have been 
given a Wall Street " tip," and who have 
become capitalists in a day, are aston- 
ishingly like the stories which went their 
round when the South-Sea Bubble hung 
iridescent over London. Mankind has 
never wearied of such tales since Alad- 
din (one of Fortune's fools) won his 
easy way to wealth. Even the old dime 
novel with ** Dare- Devil Dick," or " Jas- 
246 



Money 

per, the Boy Detective," for a hero, has 
been transmogrified into a "Fame and 
Fortune," series, with "Boys That 
Make Money," figuring vaingloriously 
on the title-page. Gone is the Indian 
brave, the dauntless young seaman who 
saved the American navy, the calm- 
eyed lad who held up a dozen masked 
ruffians with one small pistol. In their 
place we have the boy in the broker's 
office who finds out that "A. and C." 
stock will double its value within ten 
days; or the exploits of a group of juve- 
nile speculators, who form a "secret 
syndicate," and outwit the wisest heads 
on Wall Street. The supremacy of youth 
— a vital feature of such fiction — is in- 
dicated when the inspired messenger 
boy gives a "pointer" to an old and in- 
fluential firm of brokers, who receive it 
with glistening eyes and respectful grati- 
tude. "I did not tip you in expectation 
of any compensation," observes the 
magnanimous and up-to-date young 
247 



Points of Friction 

hero. "I simply felt it was my duty to 
prevent you from losing the profit that 
was bound to come your way If you held 
on a few days longer." 

Our newspapers have told us (we 
should like to know who told the news- 
papers) that high prices are popular 
prices. It is fitting and proper that peo- 
ple who own the wealth of the world 
should pay a great deal for everything 
they buy. Shoppers with their purses 
full of money are affronted by any hint 
of cheapness or economy. This may be 
true, though it reminds me a little of a 
smiling Neapolitan who once assured 
me that his donkey liked to be beaten. 
One cannot, without entering into the 
mind of a donkey or of a rich American, 
deny the tastes imputed to them; but 
one may cherish doubts. It is true that 
"record prices" have been paid for 
every luxury, that the sales of furriers 
and jewellers have been unprecedented 
in the annals of our commerce, that the 
248 



Money 

eager buying of rare books, pictures, 
and curios, flung on the markets by the 
destitution of Europe, has never been 
surpassed. One might wish that desti- 
tution anywhere (Vienna is not so far 
from New York that no cry of pain can 
reach us) would dim our pleasure in 
such purchases. This does not seem to 
be the case. '"T is man's perdition to 
be safe," and 't is his deepest and dead- 
liest perdition to profit by the misfor- 
tunes of others. 

An American rhapsodist, singing the 
paean of money in the pages ot the 
" Bankers' Magazine," says in its mighty 
name: " I am the minister of war and the 
messenger of peace. Xo army can march 
without my command. Until I speak, 
no ship of trade can sail from any port." 

"Until I speak"! Always the empha- 
sis upon that powerful voice which is so 
mute and inglorious without the com- 
pelling mind of man. When President 
Cleveland said that if it took every dol- 
249 



Points of Friction 

lar in the Treasury, and every soldier 
in the United States army, to deliver a 
postal card in Chicago, that postal card 
should be delivered, he was perhaps glad 
to think that the nation's wealth, like 
the nation's force, could be used to ful- 
fil the nation's obligations. But back of 
wealth, and back of force, was purpose. 
When man lays hand upon the "hilt of 
action," money stops talking and obeys. 
Mr. Shane Leslie, shrinking sensi- 
tively from that oppressive word, "effi- 
ciency," and seeking what solace he can 
find in the survival of unpractical ideals, 
ventures to say that every university 
man "carries away among the husks of 
knowledge the certainty that there are 
less things saleable in heaven and earth 
than the advocates of sound commer- 
cial education would suppose." This 
truth, more simply phrased by the 
Breton peasant woman who said "Le 
bon Dieu ne vend pas ses biens,'^ has 
other teachers besides religion and tlie 
250 



Money 



classics. History, whether we read it or 
live in it, makes nothing clearer. Mr. 
Henry Ford is credited with saying that 
he would not give a nickel for all the 
history in the world ; but though he can, 
and does, forbear to read it, he has to 
live in it with the rest of us, and learn 
its lessons first-hand. No one desired the 
welfare — or what he conceived to be 
the welfare — of mankind more sin- 
cerely than he did ; and he was prepared 
to buy it at a handsome figure. Yet 
Heaven refused to sell, and earth, inas- 
much as the souls of men are not her 
possessions, had nothing worth his pur- 
chase. 

The price of war can be computed in 
figures; the price of peace calls for an- 
other accountant. The tanker, Gold 
Shell, which first crossed the "forbid- 
den" zone did more than a score of 
peace ships could have done to secure 
the civilization of the world. Its plain 
sailors who put something (I don't 
251 



Points of Friction 

know what they called it) above per- 
sonal safety, and their plain captain 
who expressed in the regrettable lan- 
guage of the sea his scorn of German 
pirates, were prepared to pay a higher 
price than any millionaire could ofTer 
for their own and their country's free- 
dom. We know what these men risked 
because we know what agonizing deaths 
the sailors on the tanker, Healdton, suf- 
fered at Germany's hands. The Gold 
Shell seamen knew it too, and met fright- 
fulness with fearlessness. The world is 
never so bad but that men's souls can 
rise above its badness, and restore our 
fainting faith. 

Mohammed prayed that he might be 
found among the poor on the Judgment 
Day, — a prayer echoed by Saint Ber- 
nard, who took some pains to insure its 
being answered. Yet, as a mere abstrac- 
tion, of what worth is poverty? The 
jewel in the toad's head is as glittering 
as adversity is sweet. One has been well 
252 



Money 

likened to the other. Bishop Lawrence, 
undismayed by the most humiliating 
page of our country's history, seized a 
crucial moment in which to say very 
simply and gallantly that Americans 
are not wedded to ease, or enthralled by 
wealth. The time has come to prove 
him in the right. God will not sell us 
safety. VVe learned this much in the 
winter of 19 17, when we dug our mail 
out of an American steamer, and asked 
Britain — Britain burdened with debt 
and bleeding at every pore — to carry 
it over the sea. For our own sake, no 
less than for the world's sake, we must 
show that we coin money in no base 
spirit, that we cherish it with no base 
passion. The angel who looked too long 
at heaven's golden pavement was flung 
into hell. 



Cruelty and Humour 

THE unhallowed alliance between 
the cruelty that we hate and the 
humour that we prize is a psychological 
problem which frets the candid mind. 
Hazlitt analyzed it pitilessly, but with- 
out concern, because humanity was not 
his playing card. No writer of the nine- 
teenth century dared to be so clearly 
and consciously inhumane as was Haz- 
litt. Shakespeare and Scott recognized 
this alliance, and were equally uncon- 
cerned, because they accepted life on its 
own terms, and were neither the sport 
of illusions nor the prey of realities. It 
took the public — always more or less 
kind-hearted — two hundred years to 
sympathize with the wrongs of Shy- 
lock, and three hundred years to wince 
at the misery of Malvolio. 

It was with something akin to regret 
254 



Cruelty and Humour 

that Andrew Lang watched the shriv- 
elling of that "full-blown comic sense" 
which accompanied the cruel sports of 
an earlier generation, the bull-baiting 
and badger-drawing and cock-fights and 
prize-fights which Englishmen loved, 
and which taught them to value cour- 
age and look unmoved on pain. In 1699 
the old East India Company lost its 
claim against the New Company by two 
parliamentary votes; and this measure 
was passed in the absence of friendly 
members who had been seduced from 
their posts by the unwonted spectacle 
of a tiger-baiting. In 1818 Christopher 
North (black be his memory !) described 
graphically and with smothered glee the 
ignoble game of cat-worrying, which 
ran counter to British sporting instincts, 
to the roughly interpreted fair play 
which severed brutality from baseness. 
There was never a time when some Eng- 
lish voice was not raised to protest 
against that combination of cruelty and 
255 



Points of Friction 

cowardice which pitted strength against 
weakness, or overwhelming odds against 
pure gallantry of spirit. The first Eng- 
lishman to assert that animals had a 
right to legal protection was John Eve- 
lyn. He grasped this novel point of 
view through sheer horror and disgust 
because a stallion had been baited with 
dogs in London, and had fought so 
bravely that the dogs could not fasten 
on him until the men in charge ran him 
through with their swords. Evelyn 
asked, and asked in vain, that the law 
should intervene to punish such bar- 
barity. 

A century later we hear the same 
cry of indignation, the same appeal for 
pity and redress. This time it comes 
from Horace Walpole, who is beside 
himself with fury because some scoun- 
drels at Dover had roasted a fox alive, 
to mark — with apt symbolism — their 
disapproval of Charles Fox. Walpole, 
whom Lord Minto characterized as 
256 



Cruelty and Humour 

"a prim, precise, pretending, conceited 
savage, but a most un-English one," 
demonstrated on this occasion the alien 
nature of his sympathies by an out- 
break of rage against the cruelty which 
he was powerless to punish. It is inter- 
esting to note that he denounced the 
deed as "a savage meanness which an 
Iroquois would have scorned " ; showing 
that he and Lord Minto regarded sav- 
agery from different angles. So, it will 
be remembered, did Lord Byron and 
Izaak Walton. WTien the former dared 
to call the latter "a sentimental savage," 
he brought down upon his own head, 
"bloody but unbowed," the wrath of 
British sportsmen, of British church- 
men, of British sensibility. Even in 
far-ofT America an outraged editor 
protested shrilly against this monde 
bestorne, this sudden onslaught of vice 
upon virtue, this reversal of outlawry 
and order. 

The effrontery of the attack startled 
257 



Points of Friction 

a decorous world. Lord Byron had so 
flaunted his immoralities that he had 
become the scapegoat of society. He 
had been driven forth from a pure, or at 
least respectable, island, to dally with 
sin under less austere skies. The house- 
hold virtues shuddered at his name. 
Izaak Walton, on the contrary, had 
been recognized in his day as a model of 
domestic sobriety. He had lived happily 
with two wives (one at a time), and had 
spent much of his life "in the families of 
the eminent clergymen of England, of 
whom he was greatly beloved." He was 
buried in Winchester Cathedral, where 
English fishermen erected a statue to 
commemorate his pastime. His bust 
adorns the church of Saint Mary, Staf- 
ford, where he was baptized. His second 
wife sleeps under a monument in 
Worcester Cathedral. Dr. Johnson and 
Wordsworth — great sponsors of moral- 
ity — united in his praise. Mr. Lang 
(an enthusiastic angler) pronounced 
258 



Cruelty and Humour 

him to be "a kind, humorous, and pious 
soul." Charles Lamb, who thought 
cmgling a cruel sport, wrote to Words- 
worth, " Izaak Walton hallows any page 
in which his reverend name appears." 

This admirable Crichton, this hon- 
oured guest of "eminent clergymen," 
was the man whom Byron — who had 
never so much as supped with a curate 
— selected to attack in his most scan- 
dalously indecent poem. His lilting 
lines, 

"The quaint, old, cruel coxcomb in his gullet 
Should have a hook, and a small trout to pull it," 

were ribald enough in all conscience ; but, 
by way of superdefiance, he added a 
perfectly serious note in which he 
pointed out the deliberate character of 
Walton's inhumanity. The famous pas- 
sage in "The Compleat Angler," which 
counsels fishermen to use the impaled 
frog as though they loved him, — "that 
is, harm him as little as you may possi- 
bly, that he may live the longer," — 
259 



Points of Friction 

and the less famous, but equally ex- 
plicit, passages which deal with the 
tender treatment of dace and snails, 
sickened Byron's soul, especially when 
topped off by the most famous passage 
of all: "God never did make a more 
calm, quiet, innocent recreation than 
fishing." The picture of the Almighty 
smiling down on the pangs of his irra- 
tional creatures, in sportsmanlike sym- 
pathy with his rational creature (who 
could recite poetry and quote the Scrip- 
tures) was more than Byron could bear. 
He was keenly aware that he offered no 
shining example to the world ; but he had 
never conceived of God as a genial 
spectator of cruelty or of vice. 

Therefore this open-eyed sinner 
called the devout and decent Walton a 
sentimental savage. Therefore he wrote 
disrespectful words about the "cruel, 
cold, and stupid sport of angling." 
Therefore he said, "No angler can be 
a good man"; which comprehensive re- 
260 



Cruelty and Humour 

mark caused the public to ask tartly — 
and not unreasonably — who appointed 
Lord Byron to be Its monitor? The fan- 
tastic love of animals, which was one of 
the poet's most engaging traits, may 
have been deepened by his resentment 
against men. Nevertheless, we recognize 
it as a genuine and generous sentiment, 
ennobling and also amusing, as most 
genuine and generous sentiments are 
apt to be. The eaglet that he shot on the 
shore of Lepanto, and whose life he 
vainly tried to save, was the last bird to 
die by his hand. He had an embarrass- 
ing habit of becoming attached to wild 
animals and to barnyard fowls. An un- 
grateful civet-cat, having bitten a foot- 
man, escaped from bondage. A goose, 
bought to be fattened for Michaelmas, 
never achieved its destiny; but was 
raised to the dignity and emoluments of 
a household pet, and carried about in a 
basket, swung securely under the poet's 
travelling carriage. These amiable ec- 
261 



Points of Friction 

centricities won neither respect nor 
esteem. Byron could not in cold blood 
have hurt anything that breathed ; but 
therawas a general impression that a 
man who was living with another man's 
wife had no business to be so kind to 
animals, and certainly no business to 
censure respectable and church-going 
citizens who were cruel to them. 

Nevertheless, the battle so inaus- 
piciously begun has been waged ever 
since, and has found more impeccable 
champions. It was possible for Charles 
Lamb to sigh with one breath over 
the "intolerable pangs" inflicted by 
"meek" anglers, and to rejoice with 
the next over the page hallowed by the 
angler's reverend name. Happily for 
himself and for his readers, he had that 
kind of a mind. But Huxley, whose 
mind >vas singularly inflexible and un- 
accommodating, refused such graceful 
concessions. All forms of cruelty were 
hateful to him. Of one distinguished and 
26j 



Cruelty and Humour 

callous vivisector he said plainly that he 
would like to send him to the treadmill. 
But he would hear no word against vivi- 
section from gentlemen who angled with 
live bait, and he expressed this unsports- 
manlike view in his "Elementary Les- 
sons in Physiology." Mr. Arthur Chris- 
topher Benson's piteous lines on a lit- 
tle dace, whose hard fate it is to furnish 
an hour's "innocent recreation" for an 
angler, had not then been written; but 
Huxley needed no such incentive to 
pity. No man in England reverenced 
the gospel of amusement less than he 
did. No man was less swayed by senti- 
ment, or daunted by ridicule. 

WTien Hazlitt wrote, "One rich 
source of the ludicrous is distress with 
which we cannot sympathize from its 
absurdity or insignificance," he touched 
the keynote of unconcern. Insignificant 
distress makes merry a humane world. 
"La malignite naturelle aux hommes est 
le principe de la comedie." Distress 
263 



Points of Friction 

which could be forced to appear absurd 
made merry a world which had not been 
taught the elements of humanity. The 
elaborate jests which enlivened the 
Roman games were designed to show 
that terror and pain might, under rightly 
conceived circumstances, be infinitely 
amusing. When the criminal appointed 
to play the part of Icarus lost his wings 
at the critical moment which precipi- 
tated him into a cage of hungry bears, 
the audience appreciated the humour of 
the situation. It was a good practical 
joke, and the possible distaste of Icarus 
for his role lent pungency to the cleverly 
contrived performance. "By making 
suffering ridiculous," said Mr. Pater, 
"you enlist against the sufferer much 
real and all would-be manliness, and do 
much to stifle any false sentiment of 
compassion." 

Scott, who had a clear perception of 
emotions he did not share, gives us in 
"Quentin Durward" an apt illustration 
264 



Cruelty and Humour 

of human suffering rendered absurd by- 
its circumstances, and made serviceable 
by the pleasure which it gives. Louis the 
Eleventh and Charles of Burgundy are 
fairly healed of rancorous fear and 
hatred by their mutual enjoyment of a 
man-hunt. The sight of the mock her- 
ald, doubling and turning in mad terror 
with the great boar-hounds at his heels, 
so delights the royal spectators that the 
king, reeling with laughter, catches hold 
of the duke's ermine mantle for support; 
the duke flings his arm over the king's 
shoulder; and these mortal enemies are 
converted, through sympathy with each 
other's amusement, into something akin 
to friendship. WTien Charles, wiping his 
streaming eyes, says poignantly, "Ah, 
Louis, Louis, would to God thou wert as 
faithful a monarch as thou art a merry 
companion!" we recognize the touch 
of nature — of fallen nature — which 
makes the whole world kin. Ambroise 
Pare tells us that at the siege of Metz, 
265 



Points of Friction 

in 1552, the French soldiers fastened 
live cats to their pikes, and hung them 
over the walls, crying, " Miaut, Miaut " ; 
while the Spanish soldiers shot at the 
animals as though they had been popin- 
jays, and both besiegers and besieged 
enjoyed the sport in a spirit of frank 
derision. 

This simple, undisguised barbarity 
lacks one element, intensely displeasing 
to the modern mind, — the element of 
bad taste. Imperial Rome had no con- 
ception of a slave or a criminal as a be- 
ing whose sensations counted, save as 
they affected others, save as they af- 
forded, or failed to afford, a pleasurable 
experience to Romans. Human rights 
were as remote from its cognizance as an- 
imal rights were remote from the cogni- 
zance of the Middle Ages. The survival 
of savagery in man's heart is terrifying 
rather than repellent; it humiliates more 
than it affronts. Whatever is natural is 
likely to be bad ; but it is also likely to 
266 



Cruelty and Humour 

come within the scope, if not of our 
sympathy, at least of our understanding. 
Where there is no introspection there is 
no incongruity, nothing innately and 
sickeningly inhuman and ill-bred. 

The most unpleasant record which 
has been preserved for us is the long 
Latin poem written by Robert Grove, 
afterwards Bishop of Chichester, and 
printed in 1685. It is dedicated to the- 
memory of William Harvey, and de- 
scribes with unshrinking serenity the 
vivisection of a dog to demonstrate 
Harvey's discovery of the circulation of 
the blood. Such experiments, made be- 
fore the day of anaesthetics, involved 
the prolonged agony of the animal used 
for experimentation. Harvey appears to 
have been a man as remote from pity as 
from ferocity. He desired to reach and 
to prove a supremely valuable scientific 
truth. He succeeded, and there are few 
who question his methods. But that a 
man should write in detail — and in 
267 



Points of Friction 

verse — about such dreadful work, that 
he should dwell composedly upon the 
dog's excruciating pain, and compli- 
ment the poor beast on the useful part 
he plays, goes beyond endurance. Grove, 
who had that pretty taste for classicism 
so prevalent among English clerics, calls 
on Apollo and Minerva to lend Harvey 
their assistance, and promises the dog 
that (if Apollo and Minerva play their 
parts) he will become a second Lycisca, 
and will join Procyon and Sirius in the 
heavens. 

Here is an instance in which a rudi- 
mentary sense of propriety would have 
saved a gentleman and a scholar from 
insulting the principles of good taste. 
It is more agreeable to contemplate the 
brutal crowd surrounding a baited bear 
than to contemplate this clergyman 
writing in the seclusion of his library. 
Religion and scholarship have their re- 
sponsibilities. The German soldiers who 
ravaged Belgium outraged the senti- 
268 



Cruelty and Humour 

ments of humanity; but the German 
professors who sat at their desks, al- 
ternately defending and denying these 
ravages, outraged, not merely human- 
ity, but the taste and intelligence of the 
world. Theirs was the unpardonable 
sin. 

. Cruelty is as old as life, and will cease 
only when life ceases. It has passed its 
candid stage long, long ago. It must 
now be condoned for its utility, or 
laughed at for its fun. Our comic sense, 
if less full-blown than of yore, still rel- 
ishes its measure of brutality. To write 
gaily about the infliction of pain is to 
win for it forgiveness. Douglas Jerrold 
found something infinitely amusing in 
the sensations of the lobster put into a 
pot of cold water, and boiled. His de- 
scription of the perspiring crustacean, 
unable to understand the cause of 
its rapidly increasing discomfort, was 
thought so laughable that it was re- 
printed, as a happy example of the 
269 



Points of Friction 

writer's humour, in a recently pub- 
lished volume on Jerrold's connection 
with "Punch." The same genial spirit 
animated an American Senator who 
opposed the sentimental exclusion of 
egrets from commerce. It was the 
opinion of this gallant gentleman that 
the Lord created white herons to supply 
ornaments " for the hats of our beautiful 
ladies"; and having expressed his sym- 
pathy with the designs of Providence, 
he proposed in merry mood that we 
should establish foundling asylums for 
the nestlings deprived of their over^ 
decorated parents, — as waggish a wit- 
ticism as one would want to hear. 

When an eminently respectable Amer- 
ican newspaper can be convulsively 
funny, or at least can try to be convul- 
sively funny, over the sale of a horse, 
twenty-seven years old, blind, rheu- 
matic, and misshapen, to a Chicago 
huckster for fifteen cents, we have no 
need to sigh over our waning sense of 
270 



Cruelty and Humour 

humour. The happy thought of calling 
the horse Algernon gave a rich tv\'ang to 
this comic episode, and saved the cheer- 
ful reader from any intrusive sentiment 
of pity. When a pious periodical, 
published in the interests of a Christian 
church, can tell us in a rollicking Irish 
story how a farmer, speeding through 
the frozen night, empties a bag of 
kittens into the snow, and whips up his 
horse, pretending playfully that the 
"craitures" are overtaking him, we 
make comfortably sure that religion 
lends itself as deftly as journalism to the 
light-hearted drolleries of the cruel. 

Novelists, who understand how easy 
a thing it is to gratify our humorous 
susceptibilities, venture upon doubtful 
jests. Mr. Tarkington knows very well 
that the spectacle of a boy dismember- 
ing an insect calls for reprobation; but 
that if the boy's experiments can be 
described as "infringing upon the do- 
main of Dr. Carrell," they make a bid 
271 



Points of Friction 

for laughter. "Penrod's efforts — with 
the aid of a pin — to effect a transference 
of living organism were unsuccessful; 
but he convinced himself forever that a 
spider cannot walk with a beetle's legs." 
It is funny to those who relish the fun. 
If it does not, as Mr. Pater advises, 
make suffering ridiculous, it makes sym- 
pathy ridiculous, as being a thing more 
serious than the occasion warrants. The 
reader who is not amused tries to for- 
get the incident, and hurries cheerfully 
on. 

A more finished example of callous 
gaiety, and one which has been more 
widely appreciated, may be found in a 
story called "Crocker's Hole," by Black- 
more. It tells how a young man named 
Pike, whom "Providence" had created 
for angling (the author is comfortably 
sure on this point), caught an old and 
wary trout by the help of a new and 
seductive bait. The over-wrought, over- 
coloured beauty of Blackmore's style is 
272 



Cruelty and Humour 

in accord with his highly sophisticated 
sense of humour : 

" The lover of the rose knows well a 
gay, voluptuous beetle, whose pleasure 
it is to lie embedded in a fount of beauty. 
Deep among the incurving petals of the 
blushing fragrance he loses himself in 
his joys till a breezy waft reveals him. 
And when the sunlight breaks upon his 
luscious dissipation, few would have the 
heart to oust such a gem from such a 
setting. All his back is emerald sparkles; 
all his front, red Indian gold, and here 
and there he grows white spots to save 
the eye from aching. Pike slipped in his 
finger, fetched him out, and gave him a 
little change of joys by putting a Lim- 
erick hook through his thorax, and 
bringing it out between his elytra. 
Cetonia aurata liked it not, but pawed 
the air very naturally, fluttered his 
wings, and trod prettily upon the water 
under a lively vibration. He looked 
quite as happy, and considerably more 
273 



Points of Friction 

active than when he had been cradled 
in the anthers of a rose." 

The story is an angling story, and it 
would be unreasonable to spoil it by 
sympathizing with the bait. But there 
is something in the painting of the 
little beetle's beauty, and in the amused 
description of its pain, which would 
sicken a donkey-beating costermonger, 
if he were cultivated enough to know 
what the author was driving at. It takes 
education and an unswerving reverence 
for sport to save us from the coster- 
monger's point of view. 

There are times when it is easier to 
mock than to pity; there are occasions 
when we may be seduced from blame, 
even if we are not won all the way to ap- 
proval. Mrs. Pennell tells us in her very 
interesting and very candid life of 
Whistler that the artist gratified a 
grudge against his Venetian landlady by 
angling for her goldfish (placed tempt- 
ingly on a ledge beneath his window- 
274 



Cruelty and Humour 

sill); that he caught them, fried them, 
and dropped them dexterously back 
into their bowl. It is a highly illustrative 
anecdote, and we are more amused than 
we have any business to be. Mr. Whist- 
ler's method of revenge was the method 
of the Irish tenants who hocked their 
landlord's cattle; but the adroitness of 
his malice, and the whimsical picture 
it presents, disarms sober criticism. A 
sympathetic setting for such an episode 
would have been a comedy played in 
the streets of Mantua, under the gay 
rule of Francesco Gonzaga, and before 
the eyes of that fair Isabella d'E^te 
who bore tranquilly the misfortunes of 
others. 

We hear so much about the sanitary 
qualities of laughter, we have been 
taught so seriously the gospel of amuse- 
ment, that any writer, preacher, or 
lecturer, whose smile is broad enough 
to be infectious, finds himself a prophet 
in the market-place. Laughter, we are 
275 



Points of Friction 

told, freshens our exhausted spirits and 
disposes us to good-will, — which is 
true. It is also true that laughter quiets 
our uneasy scruples and disposes us to 
simple savagery. Whatever we laugh at, 
we condone, and the echo of man's 
malicious merriment rings pitilessly 
through the centuries. Humour which 
has no scorn, wit which has no sting, 
jests which have no victim, these are not 
the pleasantries which have provoked 
mirth, or fed the comic sense of a con- 
ventionalized rather than a civilized 
world. "Our being," says Montaigne, 
"is cemented with sickly qualities; and 
whoever should divest man of the seeds 
of those qualities would destroy the 
fundamental conditions of life." 



THE END 



CAMBRIDGE . MASSACHUSETTS 
U . S . A 



?S Repplier, Agnes 

2696 Points of friction 

P5 

1920 



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